Deutsche Aircraft announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with the leasing company ACIA Aero Leasing for the commercialization of the D328 and D328eco turboprops in passenger configurations but also to fight forest fires.
It is an aviation market where there is basically a single supplier in the West, De Havilland Canada, with the DHC-515.
According to the German manufacturer, the firefighting planes (also called tanker planes) will be destined for government agencies. The company, however, has not yet released data on the performance and capabilities of the aircraft in this configuration. Nor was a date given on the introduction of the new products on the market.
Under the terms of the agreement, ACIA will be a preferred lessor of Deutsche Aircraft’s tanker aircraft. The leasing company will also be responsible for maintenance, insurance and crew training for the firefighting turboprops.
“ACIA believes in supporting the firefighting sector as we see increasing devastation from wildfires in many parts of the world. We support the initiative from Deutsche Aircraft to engage in this sector, where we can offer leasing solutions and support the marketing of their multi-role aircraft,” commented Sameer Adam, Senior Vice President Commercial, ACIA Aero Leasing.
Anastasija Visnakova, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Deutsche Aircraft, added: “Our brand new D328eco will provide unmatched flexibility to special mission firefighting operators and prides a logical, reduced risk path towards sustainable aircraft operations.”
Deutsche Aircraft is affiliated with 328 Support Services, a company specializing in the support and maintenance of the D328 and which holds the rights to produce the aircraft, which was originally developed by the defunct Dornier, a famous German aeronautical manufacturer.
Created by Dornier in the 1980s, the high-wing aircraft only flew for the first time in 1991 and entered service two years later. In nearly a decade of production, 220 units were delivered.
In 1996, Dornier was sold by Deutsche Aerospace to the American Farchild Aircraft, giving rise to Farchild Dornier, which took over the design of the 328Jet, a jet-powered variant of the aircraft equipped with two PW306 turbofans. With this proposal, the model had 110 orders and the company even studied elongated versions of the jet, the 428Jet and 728Jet.
The redesigned model D328eco will have an elongated fuselage to increase passenger capacity and, as the name of the plane indicates, will be a machine with a low environmental impact, although it is not yet an aircraft with hybrid or electric engines. The launch of the aircraft is scheduled for mid-2026.