Air Canada Jazz Turns Dash 8 Turboprop Into Cargo Plane

In a statement issued Friday, Air Canada announced that it would be the first to fly De Havilland Canada’s new Dash 8-400 Simplified Package Freighter. The airline’s cargo division, along with Jazz Aviation, will operate routes with the reconfigured turboprop under the Air Canada Express banner.

Air Canada Jazz operates Dash 8 freighter
Air Canada Cargo announced Friday it would be operating cargo routes with reconfigured Dash 8 aircraft. Photo: Air Canada

18,000 lbs of cargo capacity

Earlier today, Air Canada and Chorus Air subsidiary Jazz Aviation announced that Air Canada Cargo and regional airline Jazz would begin operating the recently approved reconfigured Dash 8-400, dubbed the Simplified Package Freighter.

These aircraft, reconfigured by manufacturer De Havilland Canada, will have the capacity for a total of 18,000 lbs (8,165 kg) of cargo in the passenger cabin and rear hold. They will fly with the Air Canada Express livery to short and medium-haul cargo markets.

Air Canada Cargo Vice-President Tim Strauss said that the converted turboprop cabin is ideally suited for loose load cargo such as medical supplies, personal protective equipment, and other goods needed in the ongoing efforts against coronavirus.

“De Havilland Canada’s Dash 8-400 Simplified Package Freighter will allow us to redeploy aircraft, while contributing to the collective fight against COVID-19 by supporting our customer, Air Canada, in the delivery of essential cargo,” said Randolph deGooyer, President, Jazz Aviation LP in the news release.

Air Canada Express converting Dash 8
Jazz operates 75 Dash 8-400 for Air Canada Express. Photo: Air Canada

Converting 13 out of 44 aircraft

Jazz has ordered a Service Bulletin and conversion kit for the first of 13 select Dash 8-400 aircraft from manufacturer De Havilland Canada.

“The reconfiguration of Dash 8-400 aircraft into Simplified Package Freighters can be quickly achieved by the removal of seats and seat track covers in the passenger cabin. The reconfiguration, which includes the use of up to 17 nets will provide a potential total payload of up to 17,960 lb. and a total cargo volume of up to 1,150 cubic feet per aircraft,” said Todd Young, Chief Operating Officer, De Havilland Canada, in a statement released by the plane manufacturer on Thursday.

As of March, Jazz had three different models of Dash 8 planes in its fleet, all of them operating for Air Canada Express.

  • Six Dash 8-100s, all of which are to be retired in 2020.
  • 23 Dash 8-300, to be reduced to 19 by the end of the year.
  • And 44 Dash 8-400, the plans for which were to reduce them to 36.

Fifty-one of Jazz’s 75 Dash 8s are currently parked. Meanwhile, there is no information as to whether or not the planes up for conversion are among the ones that were to be retired. The aircraft have an average age of eight years.

Air Canada Express converted Dash 8 cargo
The converted turboprops can hold 17,960 lbs of cargo. Photo: Air Canada

Canadian cabin cargo conversions

Through its cargo division, Air Canada has been using commercial passenger aircraft for cargo-only flights that it would otherwise have parked. Furthermore, the airline has even done some cabin converting of its own to maximize capacity. The airline has reconfigured three of its Boeing 777ER aircraft to hold cargo rather than passenger seats.

Owned by Chorus Aviation, Jazz (founded as Air Canada Jazz) is one of the largest regional carriers in Canada and operates flights across the country under the Air Canada Express brand.

What do you make of the many passenger-to-freighter conversions we are seeing these days? Will they get their seats back once passenger demand increases? Will we see hybrid aircraft? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section.