In the late 1970s, Dornier GmbH developed a new kind of wing, the TNT (Tragflügel neuer Technologie - Aerofoil new technology), subsidized by the German Government. Dornier tested it on a modified Do 28D-2 Skyservant and with Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-110 turboprop engines. Finally, Dornier changed the engine and tested the new aircraft, which was named Do 128 with two Garrett AiResearch TPE-331-5 engines. The company developed a new fuselage for the TNT and TPE 331–5 in two variants (15- and 19-passenger) and named both project-aircraft E-1 (later Do 228-100) and E-2 (later Do 228-200). At ILA '80, Dornier presented the new aircraft in public. Both of the prototypes were flown on 28 March 1981 and 9 May 1981 for the first time.
After German certification was granted on 18 December 1981, the first Do 228 entered service in the fleet of Norving in July 1982. British and United States certification followed on 17 April and 11 May 1984 respectively. Over the years, Dornier offered the 228 in upgraded variants and fitted with optional equipment for performing various special missions. In 1998, activity on the production line was halted, in part to concentrate on the development of the successor Fairchild-Dornier 328.
The Dornier 228NG was produced by RUAG Aviation and certified by EASA on 18 August 2010. First delivery, to a Japanese customer, took place in September 2010. The main changes from the previous Dornier 228-212 model are a new five-blade propeller made of composite material, more powerful engines and an advanced glass cockpit featuring electronic instrument displays. In 2011, the Bangladesh Navy ordered two Do 228NG for the surveillance and search and rescue (SAR) mission. The aircraft were delivered on 3 June 2013. RUAG suspended production of the Do 228NG after completion of the initial batch of eight in 2013. Production restarted in 2015, with deliveries of four per year planned from 2016.
In October 2014, HAL announced that it has received an Indian Navy order for 12 Do-228 aircraft maritime surveillance and patrol aircraft worth about Rupees 1600 crores, and a few months later in February 2015, it announced that receiving an Indian Air Force order for 14 Do-228 aircraft worth about Rupees 1090 crores including six engines and a simulator.