Aussie icon making comeback

June 23, 2008

Gippsland Aeronautics (GA) has acquired the type certificate of the twin turboprop Nomad from Boeing Australia, revealing plans to put the icon of outback aviation back in production and naming a pair of launch customers.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, nor has Gippsland released pricing information or production details. Still, the Australian government believes new Nomad production could reach 200 units and $700 million in export sales over the next decade.

“GA expects the Nomad to be exported to markets with mountainous and remote areas, where it could be used as a light aircraft workhorse by mining industries operating in inaccessible areas,” said Simon Crean, a representative of the Australian government.

The Australian Government Aircraft Factory (GAF)—later renamed Aerospace Technologies of Australia (ASTA)—designed the Nomad in 1965 and built 172 of them between 1971 and 1984. Fifty-four remain in service. Boeing obtained the Nomad type certificate with its 1996 purchase of Rockwell’s assets, which included ASTA.

Two Australian operators have signed letters of intent to purchase new Nomads. Grant Kenny Aviation, an air tour operator, has reportedly signed a multi-aircraft order. The other customer is Airfreight Solutions, a Bathhurst, New South Wales-based cargo carrier.

GA Chairman David Wight says the “Next-Generation Nomad” will complement the company’s in-production GA8 Airvan utility aircraft. GA has also pledged to support the existing Nomad fleet to “the high standard of support Boeing has delivered.”

A high-wing aircraft with retractable landing gear, Nomads derive power from twin (Rolls-Royce) Allison 250-B17 engines (420 shp) turning three-blade Hartzell propellers. The airplane is certified for single-pilot operations, with two-abreast seating for up to 16 passengers. The Floatmaster variant features Wipaire amphibious floats.