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N24A Nomad of the Indonesian Navy
Role STOL aircraft
Manufacturer Government Aircraft Factories
First flight 23 July 1971
Status in service
Primary users Philippine Air Force
Australian Army
Indonesian National Navy
Produced 1975–1985
Number built 172

The GAF Nomad is a twin-engined turboprop, high-wing, short takeoff and landing (STOL) aircraft. It was designed and built by the Australian Government Aircraft Factories (GAF) at Fishermens Bend, Melbourne. Major users of the design have included the Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia, the Australian Army and the Australian Customs Service. The Nomad is to be reengineered and put back into production as the GippsAero GA18.

Design and development

Development of the Nomad began in 1965 at GAF as Project N. The Australian government funded two prototypes in January 1970 for the twin-engined, multi-purpose transport. The government was keen to build an aircraft in order to maintain aircraft production at GAF after the end of Mirage III production.[1] The first prototype (registered VH-SUP) flew for the first time on 23 July 1971. The aircraft was now known as the N2, and was aimed at the military and civilian markets. The designation N22 was to be used for military aircraft (becoming N22B in production), and N24 was to be used for the lengthened civilian version.

The only Nomad in Australia remaining airworthy in 2017, an N22C

The original intention was that the entire empennage would be hinged so that it could be swung open, providing rear-loading access, which necessitated the raised cruciform tail. The target payload was a small vehicle. The Nomad design was considered problematic and early Royal Australian Air Force evaluations were critical of it. An early, stretched-fuselage variant crashed in August 1976, killing GAF's chief test pilot Stuart Pearce (father of actor Guy Pearce),[2] and David Hooper chief structures designer. The Nomad has been involved in a total of 32 total hull-loss accidents, which have resulted in 76 fatalities.[3]

Only 172 Nomads (including the two prototypes) were manufactured, due to the limited foreign sales achieved by GAF. In 1986, GAF was incorporated into Aerospace Technologies of Australia, now Boeing Australia.[4]

In June 2008, Gippsland Aeronautics (now GippsAero) announced it had won bidding to take over the Nomad's type certificate and would probably be restarting production.[5] Some of the GippsAero design and testing engineers, including co-founder George Morgan, had worked on Nomad development at GAF.[6] The N24-based GA18 was to be re-engineered with new powerplants and propellers, a glass cockpit, and weight-saving measures.[7] It was planned to bring it into service after the development and certification of the new ten-seat GA10, due to be completed in March 2013.

As of December 2014, only one Nomad was still flying in Australia, with another four in New Zealand.[8][9][10]


Australian Army Nomad in 1992

N.2 Nomad
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 Takeoff Weight increased to 4,050 kilograms (8,930 lb).
N.22F Floatmaster
Twin floatplane version, two built.
Utility transport aircraft with a fuselage lengthened by 1.14 m (3.7 ft).
Improved version for 17 passengers, 40 built.
Re-engineered 18-seat N24 in development by GippsAero.
Nomad Missionmaster
Military transport and utility aircraft.
Nomad Searchmaster
Maritime patrol and surveillance aircraft.
Nomad N.22 Searchmaster B
Coastal patrol aircraft, seven built.
Nomad N.22 Searchmaster L
Improved version of the Searchmaster B, 11 built.
Nomad N.22 Searchmaster LI
Improved version of the Searchmaster B, fitted with the APS-104(N) 2 radar.
Nomad N.22 Searchmaster LII
Improved version of the Searchmaster B, fitted with the APS-104(V) 5 radar.

Military use


The Australian Army leased the second prototype N22 in 1973. It acquired 11 N22B between 1975 and 1977 for the 173rd Aviation Squadron. It subsequently acquired a 12th N22B from the Royal Australian Air Force in 1987. In 1993 the Army acquired eight more N22B and four N24A to replace its Pilatus PC-6 Porters. These 12 aircraft had been stored unsold when production ceased. All were withdrawn in 1995. Most were sold to the Indonesian Navy but two unflyable airframes are retained as training aids.

The Royal Australian Air Force acquired an N22B in 1977. Although owned by the RAAF it was operated as part of the Army's 173rd Aviation Squadron. It was transferred to the Army in 1987. The RAAF subsequently acquired a former Coastwatch Nomad Searchmaster and three N24As in 1989, one which had been a GAF/ASTA test frame and two from a cancelled order for United States Customs Service. They were withdrawn in 1993.


The Indonesian Navy Aviation Service acquired 12 Nomad Searchmaster B and six Searchmaster L in 1975–77. It subsequently acquired two N24A from the Royal Australian Air Force in 1993 then 14 N22B and four N24A from the Australian Army in 1995.


Civil operators

This list includes former Nomad operators.

Nomad N22C displayed at the Royal Flying Doctor Service base, Broken Hill

Air Safaris Nomad N24A at Lake Tekapo Airport in 2006.

  • Air Queensland (Previously Bush Pilots Airways)
  • Barrier Reef Airways (Float plane version)
  • Clubair
  • National Safety Council of Australia
  • Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia
  • Sunstate Airlines
  • Transportes Aéreos Isla Robinson Crusoe[11]
  • Alimediterranea


  • Layang Layang Aerospace
  • Sabah Air
  • Holland Aero Lines[12]
 New Zealand
  • Air Safaris
  • Great Barrier Airlines
 Papua New Guinea
  • Independent Air Transport
  • Paraguay Air Service
  • Polynesian Airlines
  • Gum Air
  • Rhine Air
United States
  • Air Marshall Islands
  • Air New Orleans
  • Century Airlines (commuter air carrier in California)
  • Coral Air
  • Princeton Airways
  • Skybus Express Airlines
  • Southeastern Commuter Airlines

Military operators

Indonesian Navy Nomad N24A in 2007.

Philippine Air Force Nomad N22SL at Mactan–Cebu International Airport in 2012.

  • Indonesian Navy – 42 N22B and N24A Nomad – 23 in storage: status AOG, 19 airworthy and six in service.[13]
 Papua New Guinea

Nomad N22B at the Museum of Australian Army Flying in 2007.

Other government operators

  • Australian Customs Service (Coastwatch)
United States
  • United States Customs Service

Aircraft on display

GAF N22B Nomad display at the Royal Thai Air Force Museum

United States

Notable incidents

  • On 6 June 1976, Tun Fuad Stephens, the first chief minister of Sabah, Malaysia, plus ten others, died in the crash of a Nomad in the state capital, Kota Kinabalu.
  • On 6 August 1976, a prototype model N24 operated by the aircraft manufacturer crashed immediately after take-off for a flight to test a new modification of the horizontal stabiliser. The test pilot and chief structures designer were killed, and the flight test engineer was seriously injured.[16]
  • On 23 December 1979, a Nomad operated by Douglas Airways (P2-DNL) crashed on the airstrip (MRM) at Manari, a village on the Kokoda Track in the Central Province of Papua New Guinea, killing all 16 passengers and crew. The presence of at least one baby on board, Maia Sori aged six months,[17] accounts for the high number of fatalities and may make this the worst crash in the history of this aircraft type.[18]
  • On 4 May 1987, a Nomad of the Indonesian Naval Aviation Unit, PUSPENERBAL crashed at the Mapur Island, Bintan area, Riau Province. The aircraft was a total loss.
  • On 12 Mar 1990, a Nomad (A18-401) of the Australian Air Force (RAAF) crashed due to a structural failure of the tail in flight killing the sole pilot. and The aircraft had previously done 177 hours of single engine ground runs by the OEM.
  • On 9 September 1991, an Australian Army N22B Nomad crashed near Drake in northern NSW with the loss of four people, including the pilot.
  • On 10 February 2001, Gum Air’s N24A Nomad (PZ-TBP) crashed on a flight from Paramaribo – Zanderij (Johan Adolf Pengel International Airport PBM/SMJP) to Njoeng Jacob Kondre Airstrip SMJK. The aircraft had fallen out of radio contact, and personnel at the airstrip in Jacob Kondre said it was flying low, and crashed into a mountain. All nine passengers plus the pilot perished.[19]
  • On 30 December 2007, a PENERBAL Nomad crashed in the area of We island, Nangroe Aceh Darussalam Province.
  • On 7 September 2009, a Nomad of the Indonesian Naval Aviation Unit, PENERBAL, crashed in the area of Bulungan, East Borneo. The aircraft was on a routine patrol near Ambalat Oil Block. The accident caused the fatality of one Naval officer, plus three civilians on board. The pilot and copilot received serious injuries.
  • On 28 January 2010, a Nomad of the Philippine Air Force (PAF) crashed shortly after takeoff into a residential area in Cotabato City, killing Maj. Gen. Butch Lacson, commander of the PAF 3rd Air Division, plus seven other officers on board.[20]


GAF Brochure[21]
Variant N22B N24A
Passengers 12 16
Height 18 ft 2in / 5.52m
Span 54 ft 2in / 16.46 m
Wing area 324 sq.ft / 30.1 m², 9:1 AR,[22] modified NACA 23018 airfoil[23]
Length 41 ft 3in / 12.57m 47 ft 1in / 14.34m
Cabin length 17 ft 7in / 5.34m 21 ft 4in / 6.50m
Cab. Height * Width 5 ft 2in * 4 ft 3in / 1.57m * 1.28m
Cab. volume 360 cu.ft / 10.2 cu.m 410 cu.ft / 11.6 cu.m
Baggage 58 cu.ft / 1.64 cu/m 70 cu.ft / 1.99 cu.m
MTOW 8,500 lb (3,856 kg) 9,400 lb (4,264 kg)
Usable fuel 268 US gal (1,010 L)[24]
Empty weight[22] 4,730 lb / 2,150 kg 5,241 lb / 2,377 kg
cruise[22] 168 knots / 311 km/h
Minimum control speed[24] 66 kn (122 km/h) 66.5 kn (123.2 km/h)
range[22] 730nmi / 1352 km, endurance 8 h at 140kt / 259 km/h, FL50
climb rate 1,460 ft/min / 7.4 m/s[23]
Ceiling 25,000 ft (7,600 m)[24]
2* Turboprop Allison 250B17B/C
2* Power 400–420 hp (300–310 kW)[24]
2* Propeller Hartzell 3-blade, 90.63 in (2,302 mm) diam.[24]
Takeoff to 50 ft 1,050 ft / 320m
Landing from 50 ft 740 ft / 226m


  1. GAF Nomad at retrieved 5 December 2009.
  2. Guy Pearce biography at Archived 2009-10-31 at the Wayback Machine. Archived 2009-10-31 at the Wayback Machine. retrieved 5 December 2009.
  3. "Aviation Safety Network Database". 2007-05-05. Retrieved 2011-02-15. 
  4. "Kiwi Aircraft Images: GAF Nomad". 
  5. "Nomad is set to soar once again". 2008-06-18. Retrieved 2011-02-15. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 "GippsAero Newsletter, March 2011". GippsAero. March 2011. Archived from the original on 28 September 2011. Retrieved 9 July 2011. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 Kelly, Emma (3 August 2010). "Gippsland preparing for G18 market entry within two years". Flight Global. Retrieved 9 July 2011. 
  8. CASA civil aircraft register search, using "Government Aircraft Factories" as the search parameter. Search conducted 6 December 2009.
  9. List of NZ-registered N22s retrieved 6 December 2009.
  10. List of NZ-registered N24s retrieved 6 December 2009.
  11. Our Fleet – Transportes Aéreos Isla Robinson Crusoe Archived 2009-12-15 at the Wayback Machine. Archived 2009-12-15 at the Wayback Machine. retrieved 6 December 2009.
  12. Chambers, Alison; Lowe, Janice (10 August 1985). "The Dutch Independents". pp. 20–21. 
  13. "Navy to ground 27 old war machines". Jakarta Post. Retrieved 9 July 2011. 
  14. 14.0 14.1 Soderstrom, Dave (November 2016). "Northern Nomad". Yaffa Aviation Group. p. 9. ISSN 1320-5870. 
  15. "Nomad". Pima Air & Space Museum. 
  16. Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 3 February 2019.
  17. Sydney Morning Herald 27 December 1979
  18. Harro Ranter (23 December 1979). "ASN Aircraft accident GAF Nomad N.22B P2-DNL Manari Airport (MRM)". Retrieved 26 December 2014. 
  19. "2001". Retrieved 26 December 2014. 
  20. 8 Killed in Air Force plane crash – ABS-CBN News website retrieved 28 January 2010.
  21. "Nomad - The Australian N22B and N24A Turboprop". Government Aircraft Factory. 1981. 
  22. 22.0 22.1 22.2 22.3 Gerard Frawley. The International Directory of Civil Aircraft. 
  23. 23.0 23.1 Taylor 1982 p7-9
  24. 24.0 24.1 24.2 24.3 24.4 "type certificate data sheet No. A7PC". FAA. May 28, 2010.$FILE/A7PC.pdf. 

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