De Havilland Canada has announced it will pause production of its Dash 8-400 aircraft. Current confirmed orders will get filled. Subject to demand, De Havilland says it is keen to resume production as soon as possible. The aircraft manufacturer and its owner also publicly reaffirmed their long term commitment to the broader Dash 8 program.
“Prevailing industry circumstances have hindered the ability to confirm new aircraft sales,” says De Havilland in a statement issued on Wednesday. In 2020, De Havilland Canada delivered just 20 new aircraft to customers.
“This is a responsible and prudent measure that reflects current industry conditions and will limit strain on the market and De Havilland Canada’s supply base as the pandemic recovery occurs.”
The pause will see 500 employees at the company’s Downsview assembly line temporarily out of work.
“We are sensitive to the impact that a production pause will have on our employees and are committed to treating everyone with transparency and respect,” says David Curtis, Chairman at De Havilland Canada’s parent company, Longview Aviation Capital.
Gloss rubs off 2018 Dash 8 buy from Bombardier
Longview Aviation Capital only bought the Dash 8 program and the De Havilland brand from Bombardier in late 2018. At the time, Italian aircraft manufacturer ATR comprehensively outpaced and outsold the Dash 8. In addition to the Dash 8-400 model, the new owners also picked up the rights to the previous -100, -200, and -300 series.
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“We are thrilled to assume responsibility for this exceptional aircraft program,” said Mr Curtis in 2018 in a deal reported to have cost US$300 million. “We are excited about the opportunities we see ahead for this company and for the Dash 8 aircraft.”
Outside influences soon took the gloss off the deal. In March 2020, the production of new Dash 8-400 aircraft (and Series 400 Twin Otter aircraft) was suspended in the face of rolling uncertainty across the aviation industry.
“This is a period of considerable challenge for our industry,” said the Longview Aviation Capital Chairman last March. But within a matter of months, De Havilland was bringing back workers and ramping up production again.
De Havilland remains optimistic about the long term future of the Dash 8 program
Less than a year later, history is repeating itself. While hitting the pause button on production, De Havilland and Longview Aviation Capital say they remain committed to the Dash 8 program. They say they expect demand for the aircraft to bounce back. The problem is, they just aren’t sure when this will happen.
“We fully expect worldwide demand for the Dash 8 to return once the industry has recovered from the pandemic, and the aircraft’s characteristics – will make the Dash 8 an important part of the aviation industry’s post-pandemic recovery,” said Mr Curtis on Wednesday.
In the meantime, De Havilland will continue to provide customer support and parts to the existing Dash 8 customer base. The aircraft manufacturer also intends to continue investing in the Dash 8 program. They are looking at developing a create a best-in-class freighter. According to De Havilland, that plane will have unmatched operating and financial characteristics.
Also planned is a cabin refurbishment, including an overhead bin extension solution. This will improve the cost-efficiency of existing Dash 8s. Further, by investing in the customer services and support team, distribution network and information technology, De Havilland aims to offer customers additional savings down the track. Longview’s Chairman David Curtis notes;
“While industry conditions remain challenging, we are looking to the future by enhancing our ability to support Dash 8 operators and taking the necessary organizational steps to ensure we are ready to meet industry demand as the aviation industry recovers.”
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