De Havilland to pause production this year after backlog built

By Scott Hamilton

Jan. 12, 2021, © Leeham News: De Havilland Canada will pause production later this year when the current Dash 8-400 backlog is assembled.

According to data reviewed by LNA, there are 17 Dash 8s scheduled for delivery to customers this year. There are two more that don’t have identified customers. It is unclear if these will be built.

DHC notified suppliers to stop sending parts and components to avoid building whitetails.

De Havilland assembled the Dash 8s at the Toronto plant previously owned by Bombardier. The lease on the facility expires in 2023. There is no decision whether to move the final assembly line to Western Canada, where DHC is headquartered.

Uncertain future

With only 17-19 orders for the Dash 8-400, the future is uncertain. There are 325 Dash 8s in storage: 186 -400s, 51 -300s, 25 -200s and 63 -100s. Only the -400s are in production. DHC’s focus right now is to help airlines return the Dash 8 to service, says Philippe Poutissou, vice president of sales and marketing.

With a large inventory of used aircraft and airlines awaiting recovery from the pandemic, there are few new sales opportunities.

DHC offers a firefighting version. Conair, which has two -400s scheduled for delivery this year, is one such customer. A maritime patrol version also is offered.

Rival ATR has a backlog of 46 ATR-42s, the competitor to the out-of-production Dash 8-300. The backlog for the ATR-72-600, the rival to the Dash 8-400, is 175. There are 286 ATR-72-500s/600s and 68 ATR-42-500s/600s in storage.

20 Comments on “De Havilland to pause production this year after backlog built

  1. I think the modified -600 series of the ATR’s, glass cockpit, more efficient engines, quieter props, new interiors (+the optimized -600F) is what put the faster, heavier, less efficient and more expensive Q400s into problems. Better = what the customers really need.

    180 Q400’s in storage neither help sales of course. A heavy check / new interior is way cheaper than a new machine.

  2. The Q400 might have a future as a streched cargo hauler with upgraded systems from the CRJ’s. Its massive Engines should give it good T-O performance flying heavy cargo like frozen fish. Still if you can T-O with an ATR72-600 it wins on economy so you need to find applications where the ATR72 is too limited (high and heavy). It is not easy finding Money and customers for a durable stretch especially now where ATR seems to get goverment Money to develop a brand new bigger turboprop with I assume optional LH2 tanks and new Engines (maybe modified GE Catalyst and for a much larger version the T408)

    • streched cargo hauler with upgraded systems from the CRJ’s … sounds like so expensive to develop that nobody will pay the price.

      • Ironic that FedEx went with ATR and beat out DH for the Cargo slots of their regional deliveries (Airbus is poor in Freighter in the jets)

        It would be interesting to see why ATR and not DH though cost ops would be one of those.

        When FedEx speaks that drives a market like this if there is much of one.

        Ditto savvier to the Caravan program or at least what has supported it and kept it going nicely for a long time.

  3. Clarification – Conair is the modifier of dash8s for fighting fires, not deHavilland. It sells to other fire fighters not just its own firefighting operation.

    Unlikely IMO that it is buying new ones at high capital cost for fire fighting.

    Longview Aviation Capital, the parent of deHavilland and Viking, has final assembly of its Twin Otters and CL utility airplanes in Calgary, with parts and service in Sidney BC. There has been much expertise in Calgary for airplane work, such as Field Aviation – decades ago I visited it, Twotters all over the floor being serviced, many rebuilt after crashes – I saw bent wings for example.

    Last spring Viking completed modification of some old CL215s to enhanced 415 configuration for a firefighting operation in the northwest (ID/MT/WY area), those flew in action.

    Viking was assisted by Cascade Aerospace in Abbotsford BC, an established operation originally started by Conair people and others, it does heavy maintenance on airliners.

    Much aircraft expertise in the lower mainland of BC, including Cascade and perhaps still some component manufacturing derivatives of Canadian Aircraft Products and the brothers who had a big non-aviation facility near YVR, one aviation facility made wing spars for the 757.

    • Further clarification:

      Jan 15 2018
      Bombardier and Conair announce Purchase Agreement for Six Q400 aircraft for conversion into multirole airtankers

      The firm order is valued at approx. US$206 m based on list price.

      • Thanks.

        ‘for conversion’

        Are they new or used? (Manufacturers often have airplanes taken in trade.)

        Of course when demand is low deals may be offered whether new or used.

        Interesting situation years ago with price of new Boeing airplanes as delivery dates approached. When demand was high a customer who no longer needed the airplane could get much more money for it than they were paying Boeing for it, but of course when demand was low the customer lost money.

  4. Sure hate to see the -8 die and I don’t think DH would have bought the line out to see it die.

    Moving it west makes sense. We need to keep a good Aircraft builder on the West coast.

  5. Dash 8 Needs new efficient engine perhaps PW150C and some weight savings to be more competitive. It is much more capable airplanes then ATR but unfortunately not all regionals need all the dash 8 capabilities. ATR is cheap, cheaper to fly but has more limitations. Most regional are very happy with ATR and dont seem to mind its short commings. Re engine dash 8 can fill regional prop and lower end of regional jet market.

  6. -400 bas its own market: better range,APU with good A/C system, large luggage/freight compartiment ,higher speedy are features needed African airlines.
    72-600 cheap with low DOC has its own advantages.New Liebherr A/C system will improve this weakness for hot operations.
    RNP 0.3 navigation capabilty for mountains area .
    Different spec for other airlines mainly european and asia.
    Both production will continue

  7. Longview Aviation Capital – the new owners of deHavilland Canada, is run by Sherry Brydson of the Thompson Newspaper family who owns at least a major proportion of it.

    Dave Curtis of Viking Aerospace is CEO.

    Its name comes from taking a long view of investments. They’ll need that with the current Recession caused by the SARS-CoV-2 panicdemic.

    Longview has pointed out that it does not have the money to develop a completely new airplane design. It has concentrated on updates of existing designs, some that Viking has proposed are major (such as the Buffalo NG, which the Canadian military did not buy). Viking’s products have substantial utility use, the company is trying to broaden the CL series for utility use which would help economics (some operators of larger machines are trying to get non-fire-fighting work, such as Coulson with its removable C-130 tank, though it and Conair ferry to Australia for its fire season.

    Longview’s ownings include Viking, which has facilities in Sidney BC and Calgary AB, deHavilland Canada, aircraft financial services, and flight training (it operates a level D simulator for the Twin Otter on floats, a pioneering effort that should help do the same for the CL series of amphibian seaplanes).

    An almost amusing owning is the rights and three examples of the Trigull small amphibian. That was inspired by the Seabee which was popular with private owners. But the Trigull was marketed more to commercial operators – did not sell to them, I note capital cost, Cessnas on floats were the competition. Probably a good design given the people who worked on it in the lower mainland of BC, IIRC Canadian Aircraft Products.

    As for deHavilland Canada, I read that it purchased IP of Short Brothers, apparently the type certificates for the Skyvan, 330, and 360, boxy unpressurized aircraft capable of 19 to 39 pax, probably good for cargo today. deHavilland of course made the original dash8, which has fairly small capacity as operated by airlines needing cargo space in aft end of main deck. I flew on one operated by AC from Seattle to Victoria BC. I expects quite useful in remote areas.

    I believe Short’s manufacturing facilities were sold to the outfit that owns the former Boeing commercial factory in Wichita. deHavilland Canada’s new owners would have to deal with subcontractors to dash8 production, including an operation in Communist China.

  8. I’ve been building the 400 for years and I hate to see it go. If it goes west alot of jobs will be lost on top of the job losses taking place. I’m proud to be a part of this aircraft assembly. Won’t be good for us in Ontario. I’ll be sad to see it go. It’s such an amazing aircraft and I enjoy working on them.

  9. Here’s an intriguing mention of a seaplane project in Greece, though it seems to be infrastructure for services not an airplane project, including designation of waterways for seaplane use:

    https://www.ch-aviation.com/portal/news/98950-investor-interest-heats-up-for-greek-seaplane-project
    (the photo is of a US-made bushplane)

    https://www.lonelyplanet.com/articles/seaplanes-tourist-season-greece
    (the photos are of Twin Otters)

    Cessna’s Caravan is often put on floats.

  10. Pingback: De Havilland to pause production this year after backlog built – Canadian Aviation News

  11. Would this affect parts cost/availabilities for current Dash8-400 operators ?

    • “Would this affect parts cost/availabilities for current Dash8-400 operators ?”

      I’d expect Longview to continue to provide parts support, that has been a major part of the business of Viking Air.

      A risk is that some suppliers may drop away with time. That was a challenge for Viking putting the Twin Otter back into production – after years of no airframe sales some systems components were no longer being made.

  12. It would be sad to see the -400 go, altogether a much better and more capable plane than the ATR, but Oldsmobiles sell better than Cadillacs. Those who flew both never hesitated when given a choice between the two.

    It’s a pity DeHavilland wasted the capabilities of the avionics system by trying to slavishly emulate the older -100/-200/-300 flight deck.

  13. Here’s an example of reduction in airline service due to the panicdemic, and of how people use airline service:

    https://canadianaviationnews.wordpress.com/2021/01/20/as-flight-service-collapses-in-atlantic-canada-under-strain-of-covid-19-some-worry-the-regions-being-cut-off-from-the-rest-of-the-country/

    People don’t like to move from Newfoundland culture, so they fly to work sessions far away. In that case to northern Alberta, some fly further north including Resolute Bay where First Air crashed a 737. (In remote areas like mining sites people do schedules of a few weeks work then some weeks off, working long days when on site. In the 50s-60s they’d be on site for months, getting bushed, many blowing their money on booze etc. when out, smarter people earned enough money to buy a house back home.)

    One couple were executives with separate jobs in Atlanta and Seattle, using airline travel to spend weekends together.

    A Greenpeace executive even commuted by air within Europe, until the optics of that hypocritical carbon profligacy hit the media. (Trains take too long.)

    (F/As on the BC coast had to deal with bushed loggers who needed to be slapped, or met by police for a chat after they joked about bombs.)

  14. Another manufacturer at the small end stops production: https://www.planeandpilotmag.com/news/the-latest/2020/11/24/gippsaero-airvan-gets-the-axe/

    The G8 is a boxy single-engine high-wing utility airplane. The US Civil Air Patrol has 18, about 7% of the total produced. Here’s a story of it in operation recently: https://www.avweb.com/insider/cap-flies-covid-vaccine-an-inside-look/

    The article includes mention of a vaccine delivery effort a century ago, five days by dogsled: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1925_serum_run_to_Nome.

    Incredible people the mushers, and their dogs too though death rate of dogs was substantial. Aircraft are so much better, very limited by weather back then, whereas the dogs could travel in bad weather. I hope eco-activists recognize the value of aircraft to human life.

    • Today Alaska Airlines would zip the medicine from SEA to OME via ANC, 6 hours elapsed time, limitation would be ability to land at OME due weather. (VOR, DME, and NDB nearby, I don’t know what GPS RNav adds.)

      Of course only a few more hours from half of the US, less than a day more from the rest and Canada. And into SEA from Europe (BA from London), and into Canada from India (AC was flying over the pole from there).

      ASA and smaller carriers like Bering Air could bring medicine from within Alaska, or Russia or Canada by charter flight. (I don’t know if there is much scheduled air service from Canada into Alaska, the Alaska Highway does run from Whitehorse to Fairbanks, both having substantial airports. Despite similarity of climate and life there isn’t a great deal of trade apparently, fish can come by ship or highway. (A company in SW BC helps keep its doors open by processing fish from the Alaska area of the north Pacific.)

      Aviation is good – spread the word.

      And of course we now have vaccine against Diptheria. (Do remember to get your booster injection for Tetanus, especially if you are exposed to sharp objects that have been in the dirt – which harbours bacteria especially if animals have been about. AFAIK 10 years is still the recommended boosting interval in Canada and US, 20 years may be in the UK. The vaccine is usually in a combination with diptheria and whooping cough.)

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