German start-up Deutsche Aircraft has upgraded its engine selection from the Pratt & Whitney Canada PW127S to the new PW127XT-S turboprop to power its D328eco regional airliner. DA also has deepened its collaboration with the engine maker to include next-generation technologies, it announced on June 17. Deutsche Aircraft upgrades to P&W PW127XT-S engines.

Deutsche Aircraft is developing a new version of the Dornier Do-328 turboprop since 2019. The new D328eco seats 50 passengers compared to 32 in the original aircraft, thanks to a stretch of the fuselage. The Oberpfaffenhofen-based company says that innovative, state-of-the-art technologies will make the D328eco an attractive and competitive aircraft in the sub-50 seater regional and commuter aircraft market.

Pratt and Whitney Canada launched the PW127XT-S last November at the Dubai Airshow and is offering the engine on the ATR 72-600. The engine promises a three percent improvement in specific fuel consumption and a twenty percent reduction in maintenance costs, which largely comes from a forty percent increase in on wing time.

P&WC and Deutsche Aircraft have agreed to cooperate on running the engine on 100-percent sustainable aviation fuels (SAF), something also tested by ATR. In fact, the French/Italian airframer has scheduled a flight on pure SAF on June 21, using Neste fuel on a Braathens ATR 72-600 on a flight in Sweden.

Further ahead, the engine maker is developing the PW127XT-S for hydrogen-based Power-to-Liquid fuels to be used by Deutsche Aircraft as well. In July 2021, Deutsche Aircraft announced a technical cooperation with Universal Hydrogen to study the options of including the hydrogen-capsule technology in the D328eco design. That same month, Deutsche Aircraft announced a collaboration with fuel cell supplier H2FLY to start testing on a Do-328 in 2025.

Deutsche Aircraft managing director Dave Jackson says in a media statement: “We seek not only to achieve the maximum CO2 emissions reduction possible but also look for real operative propulsion efficiency improvements compared to today’s technology. This would mean a reduction in the order of 15 to 25 percent block energy on a typical regional mission.”

Certification of the D328eco slips to second half of 2026

The design of the D328eco is progressing well. It has completed the Concept Phase and is now entering the Detailed Design Review phase. Yet, the airframer said earlier this week in a program update that certification of the aircraft is now planned for the second half of 2026 instead of late 2025. Following potential customer feedback and discussions with suppliers, DA said it has ‘enhanced our product’. Aerodynamic and wind tunnel tests are ongoing.

An important step will come before the end of this year or in early 2023, when the ground breaking is scheduled for the final assembly building in Leipzig. Deutsche Aircraft says it has received positive feedback and interest from suppliers that are willing to support the turboprop project. In March, Liebherr Aerospace was selected to provide the flap and spoiler actuation system, while in February, Factorydesign was announced as the company that will design the cabin. In June 2021, GKN Aerospace said it would produce the empennage.

On the management side, Deutsche Aircraft has secured the support of Nico Buchholz as Chief Commercial Officer. He joins DA with a rich background at Airbus, Bombardier, Delta Airlines, and Lufthansa in various marketing and sales roles. Buchholz will be responsible for securing the first orders for the D328eco.  

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Richard Schuurman
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Active as journalist since 1987, starting with regional newspaper Zwolse Courant. Grand Prix reporter in 1997 at Dutch monthly Formule 1, general reporter Lelystad/Flevoland at De Stentor/Dagblad Flevoland, from 2002 until June 2021 radio/tv reporter/presentor with Omroep Flevoland.
Since mid-2016 freelance aviation journalist, since June 2021 fully dedicated to aviation. Reporter/editor AirInsight since December 2018. Contributor to Airliner World, Piloot & Vliegtuig. Twitter: @rschuur_aero.

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