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De Havilland to freeze Dash 8-Q400 production

written by Hannah Dowling | January 19, 2021
A QantasLink Q400 takes off from Brisbane. (Rob Finlayson)
A QantasLink Q400 takes off from Brisbane. (Rob Finlayson)

De Havilland Aircraft of Canada (DHC) has said it will push pause on the production of its DHC-8-Q400 this year, once all current orders are filled, in light of lowered demand for jets.

Reports suggest the regional turboprop manufacturer will place its Dash 8-400 production on pause indefinitely, however will continue to build planes to meet current and any future orders.

That said, the Canadian planemaker said it would no longer produce “whitetails” – aircraft built in advance of confirmed orders – of the Dash 8-400, and stated that “market demand will guide” future production plans.

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DHC also reportedly told its suppliers that it would not require any more parts in the near future, once the currently outstanding turboprop aircraft orders have been filled.

According to records, De Havilland currently has a backlog of around 17 orders on its Dash 8-400.

The Dash 8 program is manufactured out of a leased facility in Toronto.

The current lease is in place until 2023, meaning the facility and the future of the program are in a state of flux, should no new orders be placed.

Additionally, analysts suggest the combination of the Dash 8’s diminishing standing against its competitor, ATR, and the impact of COVID-19 on the price and supply of second-hand regional jets, could spell bad news for the future of the De Havilland brand.

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The current DHC brand is owned by Longview Aviation Capital – also a parent company of Viking Air, the manufacturer of the DHC-6 Twin Otter aircraft.

Longview purchased the Dash 8-Q400 program from Bombardier in 2019, and reinstated the original De Havilland branding, which was removed when Boeing purchased the program from DHC in 1986.

Commenting on the matter, a DHC spokesperson said, “The pandemic has clearly created challenges for all of us in the aerospace industry, but in these challenges there are also opportunities.  We continue to sell and deliver Dash 8-400 aircraft, and to support the worldwide fleet of Dash 8 Series aircraft while taking appropriate measures to safeguard our people and our business.”

They continued, “We are investigating various scenarios for the future with many stakeholders and we will communicate more openly on this topic when plans are approved and confirmed. We are committed to nothing less than re-positioning the De Havilland Canada brand to the forefront of the regional aircraft and Canadian aerospace industry.”

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