From the start I would like to say that Dornier do make a good product, but they have always had problems with their costs (always more than the oposition) and the timming of their release (always behind the oposition).
When they released the D228 it was the last of the 18-19 seat aircraft to hit the market. It was designed to replace the twin otter and the Bandit. However because of it's late entry into the market most of the airlines operating the former aircraft were ready to move onto larger 30 seat aircraft or made the move the the 1900 or J31. The D228 was/is a good aircraft, it can carry 19 pax and their bags do 200-215 KTAS and has great field performance, but it arrived to late. It also turned out to be very expansive to purchase and maintain. In my case the company I worked for were looking at replacing their fleet of 3 E110 aircraft. The D228 was perfect for us, until will looked at the costs. Doriner would not sell one for less than $2 mil USD (which for us was $4 mill AUD) and after talking to companies that had operated them they said parts were expansive and Dornier lacked support. We continued to look at purchasing D228's from other places and found 3 low time aircraft in Japan. The company there would see each for between $600000 -$800000 USD. We were keen on these aircraft however they required some mods to meet the OZ certifiaction. We contacted Dornier and they were not very helpful. The still wanted us to purchase the aircraft from them. They said they had the exMBA aircraft from PNG for sale. We said we were keen and would be happy to take them direct from PNG fly them to OZ (a 2 hour flight). Dornier said no, they must fly the aircrraft back to Germany, refurbish them (add more cost) and then sell them. In the end we gave up and purcahsed 3 more Bandits for less than half the cost of 1 D228. Now Dornier have many 228's seating around not flying.
Now if we look at the D328TP, a great aircraft, fast, and good field perforamce, but once again it arrived to late and it is the most expensive of all the 30-36 aircraft and burns the most fuel per hour. So again it hit the market to late and Doriner out priced themselfs. I think at last count they had only built 130.
And then the 328Jet arrived, this time they got it right. the cheapest of the the RJ's (12 mUSD) it hit the market at the right time. Dornier had pland for the 44 seat aircraft the 428 which would be priced between $14-15 mil USD) which was a great price. Those who purchased the 328Jet had the chance to upgrade the the larger aircraft. There were many operators in OZ who were keen on the 428 including the airline I work for now and Impulse. Skways in the US order them, so want did Dornier do they cancelled it. Skyways orders the ERJ and Dornier loses the chance to pick up any orders from OZ. I have flown on the 328Jet, its a great aircraft and it could have done with a big brother.
And now the 728 is here, it's a great price, it has the chance to be good aircraft and popular with passengers, but once again it will arrive last on the scene, 8-12 months behind the E170 family.
Professional Pilot has a Regional product support survey they run every year. This is how FD rated;
1999 there were 9 companies, FD were number 8, Bombardier was 1, Saab 2 and Embraer 6.
2000 there were 9 again, with FD number 7, Cessna 1, Bombardier 2, Saab 3 and Embraer 4.
2001 there were 8 companies, FD 6, Bombardier 1, Saab 2, ATR 3 and Embraer 4.
So in the last 3 years FD has been at the bottom of the survey, not a good place to be when you want new customers.
Some of the comments about FD in this survey were;
"FD's 328Jet manuals are full of mistakes, they have references to the 328 turboprop".
"Our 328Jets were delivered with AFM's. When we placed the AFM in the holder, the holder broke. You didn't need a PhD to see that the AFM was bigger than the holder. FD denied that this was even a problem. We were told there is no service history to show that this has been a problem. When I visited Germany recently, I challeged them to put the AFM into the holder. They could not do it. If FD can't solve such an elementary problem, how will they go with more complex problems"
"I have been told by put maintenance dept that parts are costly"