The GAF Nomad is a utility aircraft produced by the Government Aircraft Factories (GAF) of Australia.
The Notable users of the Nomad are/were:
The Philippine Air Force, Papua New Guinea Defence Force, Royal Thai Air Force, Royal Thai Navy, the Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia, the Australian Army and the Australian Customs Service and the Indonesian Navy Aviation Service.
The Australian military withdrew almost all of its remaining Nomads amid reports of safety concerns during the 1990s.
By the 21st century, only a handful of aircraft remained in regular use in Australia.
GippsAero (Mahindra Aviation) acquired its type certificate in 2008 and plans to produce it again as the GA18.
The GAF Nomad is a twin-engine utility/commuter aircraft capable of Short Take-off/Landing (STOL) operations.
It was produced in two primary variants, the N22B and N24A, the latter being 5 ft 10 in (177 cm) longer than the N22B; the N24A also differed by its larger nose compartment and separated access provided for the main baggage compartment, which was located aft of the cabin.
Key features of the Nomad’s general configuration included its rugged and straightforward design, STOL performance, its compact and economic engines and its relatively unobstructed and flat cabin floor.
It had been designed to meet or exceed established military requirements of the era, as well as in compliance with regulations set out in the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) FAR Part 23.
The Nomad was powered by a pair of Allison 250B17B/C turboprop engines, capable of generating up to 400 hp (300 kW) each.
Journalist Hugh Field observed the selection of this powerplant to be atypical, while its basic model had a strong reputation from its widespread use on helicopters, the Nomad was the first application of this engine model.
GAF’s design team, although reportedly having been initially hesitant about applying a new engine to a new airframe, praised the engine’s behaviour upon the prototypes.
In-flight, core engine operations could be controlled via a single lever, although additional controls are used for atypical actions such as Feathering.
For ease of maintenance, the nacelles were built for easy access, while the engines consist of sub-assemblies that can be individually overhauled or replaced without extracting the entire engine.
The cabin of the Nomad has a continuous rectangular cross-section and a large freight door, both features favourable towards utility/freight operators.
It has a full-width flat floor, complete with tie-down rails, which has been stressed to bear at least 150 lb/sq ft (730 kg/m2).
While most commonly used as a baggage hold, the nose compartment could also be configured into a bay for housing various equipment packages, including radar systems, cameras, or laser scanning/ranging equipment.
Externally, the flat underside of the fuselage could be furnished with a pair of hardpoints, suitable for the installation of mini-guns and other munitions; an additional four hard points can be fitted under the wings.
To achieve an unobstructed fuselage, the two spars of the strut-braced wing are not continuous, terminating at attachment points on the side of the fuselage.
According to Flight International, the adoption of a retractable undercarriage was a relatively unusual feature for an aircraft of this type; GAF designers selected this arrangement as to avoid excessive aerodynamic drag while enabling the use of large, widely spaced low-pressure tyres, these being key to allowing for rough field operations.
Another uncommon feature for an aircraft of its class was the adoption of an all-moving tailplane.
GAF suggested that a swing-tail variant could be easily produced due to an intentionally designed manufacturing joint in the rear-fuselage that could act as a break point.
The Nomad was made available in an amphibian variant; it was reportedly one of only a few aircraft in production to feature this facility during the 1980s.
The Nomad also possesses a greater maximum cruise speed than most other strut-braced competitors, save for the de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter.
The Nomad’s cockpit, while typically fitted with dual flight controls, is designed to be operated by a single pilot.
All of the primary controls are either duplicated or of a fail-safe design; both the flaps and undercarriage are electrically actuated; to aid low-speed manoeuvring, an auto-flap button immediately selects 20° flap.
For militarised models, the cockpit can be outfitted with Stanley Aviation zero-zero ejection seats, boron-carbide armour protection around the seats, forward bulkhead and side-panels, as well as bullet-resistant glass installed in the panels of windscreen.
The cockpit reportedly possesses above-average external visibility in most directions.
Prototype, two built.
Initial production version for 12 passengers for the Australian Army.
13 passenger civil version.
Cargo variant modified from N.22B with Maximum Take-off Weight increased to 4,050 kilograms (8,930 lb).
N.22F Float Master
Floatplane version with Wipline floats.
Utility transport aircraft with a fuselage lengthened by 1.14 m (3.7 ft).
Improved version for 17 passengers.
Re-engineered 18-seat N24 in development by GippsAero.
Nomad Mission Master
Military transport and utility aircraft.
Nomad Search Master
Maritime patrol and surveillance aircraft.
Nomad N.22 Search Master B
Coastal patrol aircraft.
Nomad N.22 Search Master L
Improved version of the Search Master B.
Nomad N.22 Search Master LI
Improved version of the Search Master B, fitted with the APS-104(N) 2 radars.
Nomad N.22 Search Master LII
Improved version of the Search Master B, fitted with the APS-104(V) 5 radars.