de Havilland Canada vows to revitalize Q400

Sept. 6, 2019, © Leeham News: Nashville—The new de Havilland Canada (DHC) vowed yesterday to revitalize the former Bombardier Dash 8-400 (Q400), the program DHC acquired effective June 1.

Bombardier is selling off and exiting the commercial aviation sector after a series of management miscalculations, cost overruns and thee new airplane programs in commercial and business aviation nearly bankrupted the company.

The Q400 was the first complete airplane program to go. The CRJ program sale is next. A majority interest in the C Series jetliner occurred in 2018.

DHC is a subsidiary of Canada’s Longview Aviation. Another subsidiary, Viking Air, acquired all previous Bombardier-de Havilland programs from the Dash 1 through Dash 7 and CL-Series aerial fire-fighting water bombers.

Sole focus on Q400

Weighed under by mounting costs and delays of the C Series jet development, Bombardier largely ignored investment, sales and support of the Q400 and CRJ.

DHC’s chief operating officer, Todd Young, and Phillippe Poutissou, VP of marketing, vowed this neglect is over.

They made the remarks at the annual conference of the Regional Airline Assn. in Nashville.

DHC bought the program, lock, stock and employees, transferring 1,200 Bombardier Q400 workers to DHC on Day One.

Although Bombardier neglected the Q400 program, DHC is building on its foundation. It’s a steep hill to climb.

Rival ATR has 80%-85% of the turboprop backlog (excluding fringe OEMs in China and Russia). ATR actively supported the secondary market for its turboprops while Bombardier didn’t.

Poutissou, at one time VP of marketing for Bombardier who left in one of several management shake-ups, will change this at DHC.

In between Bombardier and DHCV, Poutissou was an executive at a turboprop lessor. This gave him insight about ATR and its approach he didn’t have at Bombardier, he told LNA.

Additionally, DHC is going to up its game with current operators, another area of neglect by Bombardier, Poutissou said.

“The focus is on stabilizing the business,” COO Young said.

Thin backlog

DHC’s backlog goes to October 2020. “We’re focused on building beyond that,” Young said. “We’re focusing on worldwide customer support.”

The Q400 is the only Dash 8 in production, but there are hundreds of smaller Dash 8-100s/200s/300s in service. With no replacement airplane of similar size in production, DHC is following on and continuing a service life extension program implemented by Bombardier.

The Dash 8-200 life has been extended from 80,000 cycles to 120,000 cycles.

New options, uses for Q400

DHC revealed a 50-passenger configuration for the Q400, like that created by Bombardier at the request of Trans States Airlines, an operator for United Airlines, to reconfigure the CRJ700 to 50 passengers and called the CRJ550.

The Q400 50-seat version provides ample carry-on luggage space to avoid gate checks. Poutissou claims economics of the reduced configuration will beat the CRJ550.

The Q400 already is operated in fire-fighting tanker and military surveillance versions. DHC will push to expand these uses.

56 Comments on “de Havilland Canada vows to revitalize Q400

  1. Don’t think it’s going to go anywhere. RJ’s are what the airlines are buying and passengers prefer jets. Props are noisy and slow. Rode the Dash’s for years and it always was a slow, vibrating trip.

    • @Steve: The older Dash 8s (100/200/300) are indeed crappy little airplanes. The Q400 (and ATRs) of today have noise, sound and vibration dampening that make the trips OK (in my view). The cabins still are cramped and passenger amenities non-existent but operationally, today’s turboprops are acceptable.

      • Scott:

        I think yhou engage in hyperpbole.

        A crappy airplane is an unsafe one (or an engine like the Trent 1000)

        A noisy airplanes is not. Now for the yuppied new age GENx type (pun intended) you seem to have jumped full in on their spoiled take on life (I want it, I want it now and I want baby oil with it to sooth my fevered brow)

        I know you are old enough to know better, maybe too much time at Starbucks?

        Noise is what ear plugs are for. Sheese Louise.

        You don’t like Mosses Lake either, hell of a lot better than being in Seattle.

        • you are aware that Gen Xrs are all between 40 and 55 years old, right?

          we are the poor bastards propping up social security for the Boomers, the real crybaby generation.

          • I have not a clue who is X, who is Y who is Z and who are crybabies.

            As someone who quit (I don’t work 4 days a week and have 3 day weekends now) I thank you for your support. Good luck, I hope to have checked out by the time it all crashes.

            On the other hand I did not have any kids and I have had put god knows how many brats through school and got nary a thank you (nor a donation to my quitting fund) – well I did support 5 niece and nephews through school.

        • My definition of a crappy airplane is one that’s noisy, has high vibration, poor passenger accommodations and requires gate check for carry on. You assume facts not in evidence WRT safety.

          I’m more colorful when it comes to the CRJ and ERJ (not the EJet, to be clear). These are MFAs for passenger experience.

          I don’t live in Seattle and never have. And I still don’t like Moses Lake.

          • Scott:

            Mercer or Bainbridge Island ? Really, its all Seattle upscale (maybe more so) in attitude if not city limits.

            I am embarrassed you are of my generation, we grew up flying in noisy uncomfortable airplanes but some of the finest in the world (DC-3, DC-4, Constellation (even C-123) – they got us to where we needed to go.

            A crappy airplane is one that crashes because its deficient. Early Electra, Comet come to mind alone with the C133

          • And once again I will remind you Seattle let alone it environs was once a crappy lumber town.

            All big cities stared out as cow towns. And now they are grid locked messes.

    • I agree with @Scott – ATR-600 on short routes is quite OK regards to pax comfort, and good at economics, this is just a market for turboprops. Short hops at basic comfort.

      • Any plane seat in economy class is basic comfort.
        The LCC carriers proved basic service is fine when the airfare reflects that.
        The rest of the world has accepted turbo props provide flights when there might not be some, in my country almost all towns between 30,000 to 90,000 have a regular airline service by turboprops. ( and no business class) And some small offshore islands with say 1500 people have regular flights with old CV580s which carry a mix of people and freight as the choice is a sea voyage of days.

        • Horizon Air Ala AK uses them a lot for shuttle form big cities to smaller ones.

          Flights tend to be shorter and while packed not a big deal.

          Otherwise as Duke noted, there would be no service.

          Costs are high even with the Turbo, I take the bus up to and from Bham from Seattle most of the time.

    • Carbon taxes are a threat and turboprops are still winners here. there is no way to go but smaller airports with shorter runways requiring less infrastructure and able to offer shorter check in times. The space required for airports is insane, part of that is the massive runways required as well as terminals. There is an uber generation that doesn’t like to drive. I’m not sure the DASH 8 is the answer but it’s a step in the right direction.

    • Not sure dropping Q400 to 50 seats is a dehavailand revitalization.??.I’ve worked on 100 300 Q 400 and Rjs for 30 years.The customers just don’t like props.The Q 400 is a big improvement on speed and Noise but I see the big 6 blade props as a real high maintenance problem.DHC was best in the bush.

  2. Does DHC has the room to discount the Q400 cheaper compared from when BBD was selling it ?

          • Air Insight has looked into the US 50 seater market – which I think means 3 class

            ” there is a business flying 50-seaters for around 400-mile stages. In 2018 this market represented over 43 million passengers,”
            But around 2013 it was 70 mill pax but the dropping of the small RJs and upgrading to 76 seaters changed that.

            Maybe not a big fleet as they would be 3/4 hr to 1.5hr on average stages and quite a few rotations per day.

            The basic problem is the US has the mainline carriers in total control of the regional market. They (often) own the planes, sell the tickets , control the schedules, all the operators do is staff , fly and maintain the fleet..
            The link to Mesa operations said the only marketing they do is to ‘recruit pilots’

  3. The Q400 is pretty quick, but they need to “change all the boxes” to more modern and reliable units from Airbus/Boeing suppliers insted of some confused domestic ones trying to get their money back. They could stretch the fuselage to 99pax and replace the landing gears from someone like Liebherr. That upgrade is what ATR did when going to the -600 models that took over the maket even tough the ATR72-600 is slow but good. A 99 pax reliable and fast Q400 should be a success at many high and short airports with long routes. Africa in ideal, South America as well even Siberia where pax is used to push aircrafts out of the snow before boarding.

  4. Claes: I think they need to get the house in order first.

    From what I see the Q-400 biggest failing was BBD in that it failed to show their customers that it can be almost as low cost as an ATR, but an ATR can’t begin to do what a Q-400 and its crappy predecessors do (fast and hot and high)

    In short its vastly more capable and flexible.

    You can make up time if need be, you can plan more direct when in terrain that dictates what the route is simply because of what altitude you can fly o none engine out.

    Yes the cost of that good Turboprop engine is higher. Over the life of the air frame meeting schedules and its flexibility allowed and capability returns that.

    Even with a full load that puppy rotates and it limbs like a heaven sick angle.
    Altitude is life.

    • It first need to be as reliable to leave the gate. The main Q400 problem is cost and reliability. The rest is pretty good. Hence they should have done the -600 tranformation long time ago. Using the 2 x 5000 shp available menas increaseing MTOW and pax/cargo.

  5. The Q400 is an excellent piece of equipment for a short 60-90 min flight…in fact brilliant…what’s with all the negativity here?
    Prefer it to the MAX8!

    • I too like it a lot. I think the longest was a Seattle to Eugene flight, its fast and was not a problem.

      We just need other airlines to realize how good it is.

  6. Interesting.l

    Fuselage weight is high for fire-fighting and surveillance (given compactness of today’s equipment unlike the days of Electra used for ice patrol).

    Long fuselage probably could accommodate a cargo bay forward or aft on main deck, as often used on airliners with narrow bodies. (PW’s CV640s and AC’s Dash 8s for example.) Hinterland services, which WestJet might be into with its Q400s, need cargo volume – on PW’s milkrun with 737s I’ve seen car fenders.

    DeH presumably has support contacts around the world, as Viking should have.

    Question is how deep are Longview’s pockets and how patient their pockets are. The financial bunch that own the former Boeing commercial operation in Wichita that builds parts of Boeing airplanes like 737 and 787 noses have contacts and other investments, they are smart but not stupid, they seem to like aviation.

    • To update the Q400, let’s say Longview (Ontario based capital) is more likely to obtain gouvernment financial support (From both Ontario and the Feds).

      They should also be able to pospone the move of the FAL out of Downsview. Then obtain good $ from Ontario to pay for that move…

      Bombardier would not have obtained anything in Ontario. It was very clever to sell the whole thing.

      • MMM, Downsview is in Ontario.
        Where do you thing the FAL might move to?
        (Need FAL to be at an airport (hey, Viking’s FAL is in Calgary :-o), parts manufacture can be in many places off airports and often is. Cost of airport land vs transportation is one balance to make.)

    • Oh, weight and balance becomes a challenge with cargo at front and back of long fuselage. Depends on cargo density, express packages tend to be light, fenders medium I guess as they are not flat metal, pumps etc dense. And on weight limit, I’m too lazy to do the arithmetic for seats and pax as that is probably what the fuselage is designed for.

  7. The Q400 is a very fine aircraft, having delivered (accepted at the factory) many for an airline I worked for in the past, including many test/acceptance flights I love the aircraft.
    However, I would advise anyone planning to operate them in their fleet to buy one extra to fund a maintenance mod line to keep up with the reliability mod’s required to keep the aircraft reliable. I hope in the future reliability can be built into the aircraft so the aircraft can be used to effectively generate revenue for the users.
    Good luck to the new owners/team.

    • Like a Jaguar, fast, nice and expensive but you need a spare one to pull spare parts from…

      • It certainly got my vote to upgrade the reliability.

        Never missed a flight on one, that aspect is new.

  8. Also, what Bombardier did not in terms of sale and marketing that DHC can now do ?

  9. The 400 is extremely aerodynamically efficient, as are its propellers. But flying in one (as I regularly do) is an unpleasant experience. A bit of TLC with the interior would do wonders for passenger comfort.
    And if there’s one aeroplane that’s crying out for conversion to electric propulsion, it’s this one.

    • That’s not what has been said about the Q400
      https://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/quiet-revolution-64860/
      As for electric, currently impossible in this type of plane and range.
      Flight certified batteries are near 1/100 the energy density of the standard aviation kerosene , and planes aren’t like cars which aren’t effected much by extra weight. The induced drag due to weight has the weight squared in the formula. There are other issues together which don’t make up the extra efficiency of electric motors)
      That’s why existing planes will have miniscule range if converted to electric or are completely new designs with less than 10 passengers ( and are mostly concepts in spite of claims to being able to fly ‘soon’)
      All covered in more detail and better explanations in LNA series on electric planes

      • RN:

        You really need to do your research, batteries are impossible fit for a Q and any missions it flies.

      • The energy density of jet fuel is 12kW.Hr/kG whereas that of LiPo batteries as used on Tesla model three is 0.25kW.Hr.kG. However the best gas turbines could only extract 40% of the energy whereas an electric motor over 90% as a result we can say the the ratio is 20:1. However electric motors are 1/5th the weight of piston engines, don’t require significant cooling or air intakes and when operated as windmill style airbrakes can recover 6% of flight energy. They are completely vibration free and can get away without variable pitch thereby reducing installed weight. battery’s are also volumetrically denser. The fuel fraction of an A330-800 is 45% so we can get plenty of weight of batteries on an aircraft. Clearly a Q400 could be converted over and made to fly. Ten tons of batteries, 3 tons of cargo would give about 40 minutes of power (2 x 1600kW). It might do Dublin-London. Clearly a clean sheet design optimised for electric propulsion would be much better. I doubt we will ever see a conversion of an existing types except as a testbed. It seems something with a range of around 150km-200km is economically possible (without discharging the batteries more than 50%) but we know a 100% improvement in batteries is already in the lab. There might be a nice market for 200km-400km flights if in eVTOL or eSTOL form. The flights must not be ‘crappy’. IE silent, smooth, easy probably automatic to make them affordable.

        • Are Tesla batteries flight certified..Nope.
          Believe me the density for those used as primary flight is closer to 100 times than the 20 you mention. That’s completely fanciful
          As well you are thinking of a car when a planes induced drag is massively increased by extra weight.
          All those extra benefits dissapear.
          Check the series on electric planes on Leeham where all these issues are throughly assessed rather than your own non expert guessitimates.

    • Says it all in the story about the H215 ( Super Puma)
      ” handover of its fourth and final H215 from a 2016 contract -…. – an acquisition driven by the transfer of responsibility for coastal search and rescue missions from the country’s military.”

  10. Boeing 777X Structural Testing Halted Due To An Unexpected Event of the cargo door opened up under extreme pressure testing.

    • Provide a link

      A Boeing employee cannot invoke 5th for a corporation.

      A corporation does not have 5th amendment rights but they do have legal aspect they can invoke until ruled right or wrong.

      • The whole idea of a ‘corporation’ is that a body of people have the same rights as a free human i.e. to make contracts so long as they conform to certain rules and structures. That is where the word ‘incorporated’ comes from: literally to make one body. It is a legal fiction of course but a good one. It was invented by the Dutch (not immigrants from Spain) and caused a massive upsurge in European GDP.

        Id say ex Boeing test pilot has personal notes and this is what he is hanging on to. We know what these people are like, they will find someone implicated, threaten them with prosecution with criminal charges that carry horrific sentences but grant immunity if they “sing”.

        What I fear is that the US DoJ smells that the MAX did not meet FAA Part 25 requirements for natural stability in some regimes.

        EASA wants to witness the B737 be flown with MCAS deactivated. Do they just want proof for the sake of completeness or have they run CFD simulations.

  11. Is there still a market?

    Dash 8 is quite an old design and even the ATR is a mid -80ies construction with rather minor improvements.
    Airbus couldn’t make a case for a new/updated product work. While you see the E2 jets and the C-Series outgrowing the regional only segment in range and size, rather pushing in the direction of 130 or 150 pax, the CRJ is done.
    You would guess there’s a market for 50-100 pax on quick 0,5-2,5h 500-1200km flights where a modern turboprop would offer fantastic economics.

    Doesn’t seem there’s much improvement going on, while jets are now 40 years advanced in development.

  12. While we have a number of new jets out what major advances have there been in aerodynamic?

    Its the engines though the C series maxed the capability of current tech well.

    New Turboprop engines are being created all the time.

    Get a commitment for them and you can do an NEO.

    • New turbo prop engines created all the time?

      Pratt PT6 first ran 1960
      Garrett TPE331 ( now known as Honeywell) , again from the 1960s
      Walter M601 , another mid 60s engine. Later updated as the GE H80
      in 97 ( Walter is a GE subsidiary)
      GE Catalyst – not yet certified as its new. It was designed by Avio in Italy ( now owned by GE), who will be making major sections and final assembly at Walter in Prague.

      Would love to know about all those other new ( western) TP engines ( in this class).
      Regarding a new 50-80 seater plane, modern development costs rule that out. There is no magic aerodynamics from doing what has been done before and the engines date from the 1960s but are vastly improved models which have better power , better economy and better maintenance costs with increased parts lives.
      This is why airlines still buy them. The cockpits are modernised, the fuel economy is great for the sectors they fly, the engines are ultra reliable. Planned obsolescence like the motor industry isnt practiced.

      Intriguingly the area with the most change in aviation is the business jet, with multiple segments and seemingly room for multiple OEM. Its a sort of discretionary purchase with a lot of trading up – so has characteristics of the car industry

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