The Government Aircraft Factory (GAF) Nomad project has a long and frequently controversial history beginning in 1965 with 'Project N', a single-engined, high-wing design. By 1969 the design concept had changed to a twin-engined light passenger aircraft powered by turbine engines. Federal government approval for construction of two flying prototypes and a static test airframe was announced in January 1970.
The first prototype N22 Nomad (VH-SUP) flew at Avalon airfield, Victoria on 23 July 1971, with test pilot Stuart Pearce at the controls. The aircraft had Short Take-Off & Landing (STOL) capability with full-span flaps for small/rough airfield operations. The name Nomad was adopted and the second prototype (VH-SUR) was flown to the United Kingdom for the 1972 Farnborough Air Show. Production at GAF's Melbourne factory commenced in 1972 with the first production aircraft flying in October 1974. In August 1976, the prototype N24 Nomad crashed at Avalon killing Stuart Pearce (father of actor Guy Pearce) and designer David Hooper. Flutter from experimental control tabs was the stated cause of the accident.
Despite numerous public announcements and rumours of large overseas sales orders over ten years, just 170 military and commercial Nomads were built before production ceased in 1984. Political considerations ruled out proposed sales to South Africa and Portugal. The N22B was a short-fuselage civilian version and the N24A was a lengthened fuselage civilian aircraft. Specialised civilian and military models included the Missionmaster military version of the N22B, a N22B Floatmaster floatplane developed in the USA and the Searchmaster coastal patrol version equipped with Bendix or Litton radar units. A Medicmaster air ambulance model was used by the Royal Flying Doctor Service and the Surveymaster could be equipped with a WILD RC10 camera and specialised navigation equipment.
In 1987 it was announced that the remaining unsold Nomads would be supplied to the RAAF and the Australian Army (who had been operating the type as the 'Missionmaster'). An apparent tailplane failure caused the death of pilot FLTLT Glenn Donovan flying a modified N24 near Gawler, SA in March 1990. All Army Nomads were grounded for a period and were subsequently withdrawn from service in 1995. The RAAF had already withdrawn their Nomad aircraft from use in 1993. Most of these ex-ADF aircraft were sold to the Indonesian Naval Air Arm.
Despite problems experienced in Australia, the Nomad was sold to overseas military and civilian customers and many of these aircraft remain operational. As the successor to GAF, Boeing Australia held the type certificate for the Nomad. In June 2008 it was announced that the type certificate along with design and development rights had been sold to Gippsland Aeronautics at Morwell, Victoria. Gippsland Aeronautics announced their intention to manufacture a modifed version of the Nomad using Rolls-Royce 250-17F2 engines. Production of around 200 aircraft is believed to to be possible.