The Life Of The Dash 8 Aircraft Type

The De Havilland Canada (DHC) Dash 8 is a core part of many airlines’ regional operations. The twin-turboprop aircraft can be found serving with carriers in all continents except Antarctica (even though its older brother, the Dash 7, flies for the British Antarctic Survey!). Let’s take a brief look at the life of the Dash 8 aircraft type.

Dash 8-400
The Dash 8 program has switched hands multiple times. Photo: DeHavilland Canada

A program with numerous owners

The aircraft, throughout its history, has been designated the DHC Dash 8. The DHC stands for ‘De Havilland Canada,’ a company founded in 1928 by the British de Havilland Aircraft Company. Here’s a brief timeline of how the Dash 8 program has changed hands over the years:

  • 1974: The Canadian Government subsequently took ownership of DHC.
  • June 1983: According to BAE Systems, the first prototype DHC 8-100 (C-GDNK) flew for the first time.
  • 1986: The Government of Canada privatized De Havilland Canada and sold its aircraft production facilities and product range to Boeing. Boeing intended to make significant additional investments for ongoing product development and modernization of the De Havilland plant. This was largely seen as a way to sway the government to choose the planemaker for another aircraft deal – which it eventually lost to Airbus.
  • 1988: The sale to Boeing is completed. The American planemaker would go on to file a lawsuit against the Canadian Government, alleging that it was misled about the condition of de Havilland’s facilities. The lawsuit was settled, with Boeing receiving about $97 million in payments.
  • 1992: Boeing agreed to sell DHC to a joint venture of Bombardier Inc. and the province of Ontario for $260 million- or $475 million in 2020.
  • 2019: After decades of relative success with the program, Bombardier Aerospace decided to divest itself of its Dash 8 (Q400) program, selling it to Longview Aircraft Company of Canada Ltd.

Interested in learning the finer details of the Dash 8 program? You can find it in this article.

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Dash 8-100
While the longer -400 is the most common Dash 8 these days, the Dash 8-100 is the earliest version of the plane. Photo: ‘eye of einstein’ via Wikimedia Commons 

“[De Havilland Canada is] a leaner, betterequipped and more efficient organization…we are pleased to have aligned de Havilland with buyers who can protect the long-term interest of its customers, employees and suppliers,” – Bruce Gessing, Executive Vice President of the Boeing Commercial Airplane Group and chairman of Boeing of Canada via AP

The various versions of the Dash 8

The Dash 8 began with the -100 and extended up to the -400 (updated as the Q400 with Bombardier). Here are the basic specifications for each type:

Dash 8-100: 37-40 passengers with a range of 1,174 nm (2,174 km) fully loaded.

Dash 8-200: Same dimensions as the -100 but with a faster cruising speed and higher MTOW. This resulted in a reduced range: 1,125 nm (2,084 km).

Dash 8-300: 50-60 passengers with a range of 924 nm (1,711 km).

Dash 8-400 (Q400): 82-90 passengers with a range of 1,100 nm (2,040 km).

Dash 8-400
Longview Aircraft Company of Canada purchased the Dash 8 program from Bombardier and renamed the Q400 back to the Dash8-400. Photo: DeHavilland Canada

The latest Dash 8 news

In September, Transport Canada confirmed the extension of approvals that permit the conversion of Dash 8 Series aircraft into Simplified Package Freighters (SPF) in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The approvals, extending to July 31, 2021, will allow for continued flexibility in the transportation of goods.

Converted into a freighter
Air Canada and Jazz Aviation have been using a modified Dash 8 for cargo operations. Photo: Air Canada

The most recent news regarding the program is the delivery of two Dash 8-400s to Ethiopian Airlines in late October.

According to De Havilland Canada, there are over 155 Dash 8 Series aircraft in Africa, including more than 90 Dash 8-400 aircraft. Worldwide, more than 155 airlines, leasing companies, and other organizations have ordered almost 1,300 Dash 8 aircraft.

What do you think is the future of the Dash 8 program? Let us know in the comments.