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21 May 2014

ILA 2014: RUAG’s German Aviation Centre of Excellence

For decades, Oberpfaffenhofen has been host to some of Germany’s most important aerospace companies. Since 2003, RUAG has also become part of Oberpfaffenhofen’s rich aviation heritage and locally the RUAG Aerospace Structures and RUAG Aerospace Services companies now provide employment for some 1,100 out of the 7,800 personnel that the overarching RUAG Group employs worldwide.

Specialising in machining, forming, and surface technologies, as well as engineering, aircraft structures, machine assemblies, and environmental technology, RUAG Aerostructures is involved in production of parts for military aircraft such as the Boeing F/A-18 HORNET, Pilatus PC-21, Enaer T-35 PILLAN, and of droptanks for both the GRIPEN and RAFALE euro-canards. However, this is mostly being done in Emmen in Switzerland and activities by RUAG Aerostructures in Oberpfaffenhofen are mainly focused on producing components for civil aviation. This includes the production of aft fuselages of A320, A330 aircraft and tailcones of Bombardier CRJ700/900/1000 aircraft. Coincidentally, RUAG is very much committed to hosting large numbers of trainees, which are provided with comprehensive, basic training for a series of professions in a technological environment. RUAG is convinced that these efforts will help it to maintain its technological edge, hereby advancing the company’s international competitiveness.

RUAG Aerospace Services is a certified MRO provider for Germany’s dwindling UH-1D helicopter fleet, while the company is also authorised to perform line and base maintenance on civilian Bell 205 helicopters. No longer in service with the Luftwaffe, a large number of ALPHA JET aircraft is still being used abroad on a daily basis thanks to the services of RUAG, which supports the German variant of the ALPHA JET. The company is involved in customer support for legacy Do-228 aircraft, approximately 150 of which still operate worldwide, including three aircraft with the Italian Army Air Corps. Special mission aircraft are also often handled by RUAG. Fairly recent upgrade projects include two Do-228 aircraft for the Royal Netherlands Coast Guard and a Gulfstream G550 High Altitude and Long Range (HALO) research aircraft for the German Aerospace Centre DLR. Since its handover the latter aircraft has also operated out of Oberpfaffenhofen under the auspices of the DLR’s test facility, which is stationed there. Meanwhile, RUAG also provides MRO services and system upgrades for Bombardier CL600/601/604/605/850, CRJ200, GLOBAL Express/GLOBAL XRS and GLOBAL 5000 aircraft.

Recently, RUAG has also been supporting efforts by the US company General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI), which are aimed at selling the PREDATOR B (also known as MQ-9 REAPER) UAV to the German military. As part of its SAATEG MALE requirement, the Bundeswehr is contemplating acquisition of a bridging solution for the Luftwaffe, which is to be provided by a military off the shelf product. Subsequently, a newly developed advanced European design could be selected as a final UAS solution.

As the Original Equipment Manufacturer of the Do-228, RUAG has recently commenced deliveries of new aircraft to the government of Venezuela. The Venezuelan government became the first fleet customer in Latin America since the Do-228 was relaunched in 2007. The country has purchased ten units of the turboprop aircraft including eight new Do-228 New Generation (NG) aircraft and two pre-owned Do-228-212s. Building on proven technology from the Do-228-212 with its renowned short field performance, RUAG’s latest Do-228NG aircraft is equipped with a digital glass cockpit with four liquid chrystal HD displays, state-of-the-art navigation and communication systems, and new five-bladed composite propellers. It also has a new landing gear design, an enhanced cabin layout with new comfort seats and some 300 other minor improvements. Powered by two 776shp Garrett TPE-331-10GP-511D engines, the Do-228NG has a maximum take-off weight of 6,400kg (or 6,575kg for special mission aircraft) and an impressive maximum structural payload of 1,940 kilograms. Fuselage, wings, and tail unit of the aircraft are manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) in India and transported to Oberpfaffenhofen, where RUAG carries out final assembly and outfitting.

RUAG is also offering special mission variants of its latest Do-228NG aircraft. Under a 2011 contract, two aircraft were delivered to the Bangladesh Navy in mid-2013. Designed for maritime air patrol and rescue missions along the country’s coastline, both Do-228NGs were customised with special mission systems including a 360° Telephonics RDR-1700B surveillance radar and operator console, as well as HF, VHF/UHF and VHF FM radios. A SAR direction finder, six observer seats and two bubble windows, one on either side, further enhance the aircraft’s search and patrol capabilities. The Bangladesh Navy’s Do-228NG aircraft are also equipped with a door that can be opened in flight, as well as a marine marker and life raft. The German naval air wing 3 at Nordholz currently operates two Do-228NG aircraft, one of which is a reworked Do-228-212 while the other one is a brand new aircraft. Involved in pollution control, these aircraft conduct day and night time surveillance of the North and Baltic sea, while also providing support for SAR missions or scientific projects. On top of this, both aircraft can be used on behalf of civilian authorities as was done during the 2013 Elbe river flooding.

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