GAF Nomad

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 N22 Nomad in Australia remaining airworthy, with a single N24 Nomad also remaining airworthy.

The original design intention was that the entire empennage would be hinged, so that it could be swung open, providing rear-loading access (the target payload was a small vehicle). This necessitated the raised cruciform tail.

The Nomad design was considered problematic and early Royal Australian Air Force evaluations were critical of the design. An early, stretched-fuselage variant crashed, killing GAF's chief test pilot Stuart Pearce (father of actor Guy Pearce),[2] and the assistant chief 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, worked on Nomad development at GAF.[6] The N24-based GA18 will be reengineered with new powerplants, propellers, glass cockpit and weight-saving measures.[7] It is planned to bring it into service after the development and certification of the new ten-seat GA10, due to be complete in March 2013.

As of December 2009, only one Nomad is 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 3 ft 9 in (1.14 m).
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.


 New Zealand
 Papua New Guinea
 United States

Military operators

Nomad N22B at the Museum of Australian Army Flying in 2007.
Indonesian Navy Nomad N24A in 2007.
 Papua New Guinea

Other government operators

 United States

Notable incidents

Specifications (N22B)

Data from Jane's All The World's Aircraft 1982–83[18]

General characteristics



<div class="reflist columns references-column-width" style="-moz-column-width: [6] [7]; -webkit-column-width: [6] [7]; column-width: [6] [7]; list-style-type: decimal;">

  1. GAF Nomad at retrieved 5 December 2009.
  2. Guy Pearce biography at 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. 1 2 3 4 "GippsAero Newsletter, March 2011" (PDF). GippsAero. March 2011. Retrieved 9 July 2011.
  7. 1 2 3 4 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 retrieved 6 December 2009.
  12. Chambers, Alison; Lowe, Janice (10 August 1985). "The Dutch Independents". Flight International. pp. 20–21.
  13. "Navy to ground 27 old war machines". Jakarta Post. Retrieved 9 July 2011.
  14. Sydney Morning Herald 27 December 1979
  15. Harro Ranter (23 December 1979). "ASN Aircraft accident GAF Nomad N.22B P2-DNL Manari Airport (MRM)". Retrieved 26 December 2014.
  16. "2001". Retrieved 26 December 2014.
  17. 8 Killed in Air Force plane crash - ABS-CBN News website retrieved 28 January 2010.
  18. Taylor 1982, pp. 7–9.
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