De Havilland Canada has delivered its first Dash 8-400 turboprop as the company undergoes a phased reopening after COVID-19 brought production to a standstill in March.
Staff at the Toronto plant have been returning to continue production of the turboprop that the company bought from Bombardier nearly a year ago. The first phase saw the return of approximately 100 employees with De Havilland Canada focussing on resuming pre-flight activities and the return to delivery of Dash 8-400.
FINN presenter Pips Taylor caught up with DeHavilland CEO Todd Young at the Dubai Airshow to hear more about the Dash 8-400, a few months after its purchase from Bombardier.
“Largest turboprop in manufacture today”
Young said: “The Dash 8-400 is a regional turboprop. It’s the largest capacity turboprop in manufacture today. We have a varying range of configurations we can offer to our customers.”
“Our type spec aircraft is at 82 seats. We have variants of that, we go up to 86, up to 90 – that’s our largest capacity – it’s the largest capacity turboprop in manufacture in the world today. It is also a high speed turboprop, so it’s the fastest turboprop in production today.”
He added: “We compete on the regional markets but we also have, due to the speed advantage, we compete in the regional jet markets. So we have a good balance between turboprop economics and jet like performance. Of course our plane is also environmentally friendly, so lower emissions on CO2, lower noise footprint on take off and landing. And, because of the speed, we have great utilisation where our operators around the world are able to get more utilisation in the typical flying day.”
De Havilland’s return to production followed temporary suspension of manufacturing operations on March 20 as the company supported international efforts to contain the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. The phased return to work reflected market demand and was undertaken in consultation with customers.
Global aviation industry faces unprecedented uncertainty
Welcoming employees back, CEO Todd Young said the company would continue to work closely with government agencies, ensuring protocols and processes were in place for a safe operational environment. He added: “The global aviation industry continues to face unprecedented uncertainty as a result of COVID-19 and we are all watching for signs of economic recovery. As we move forward, we are adjusting the business to reflect the current market demand, as well as for the foreseeable future, and we will proactively manage costs and streamline our operations in all areas of the business.”
De Havilland Canada continued to provide customer support and technical services to owners and operators of Dash 8 Series aircraft around the world throughout the production pause with most teams able to work remotely. The teams were also responding to numerous requests relating to the reconfiguration of Dash 8 aircraft to support aerial transport services and the delivery of essential cargo during the pandemic.
Freighter configuration approved
Transport Canada approved a new Simplified Package Freighter configuration last month that can quickly transform the Dash 8-400 aircraft passenger cabin to carry light freight, providing a solution for operators to redeploy aircraft for freight purposes.