March 29, 2021, © Leeham News: Aviation stakeholders’ attention understandably focuses on Airbus and Boeing as the industry works its way through the COVID-19 pandemic. Embraer gets less attention than the Big Two.
But two other OEMs must be considered as well: ATR and De Havilland Canada.
Outside of China and Russia, whose home-grown industries sell only to these markets, ATR and DHC are the only manufacturers of turboprops in the 50-90 seat sectors.
LNA revealed on Jan. 12 that DHC would suspend Dash 8-400 production after the small backlog rolled off the assembly line. The privately held company delivered 11 airplanes last year due to the pandemic.
About 900 aging regional turboprop aircraft need to be replaced in the coming years.
ATR delivered only 10 aircraft last year and received six gross orders.
ATR has an advantage over De Havilland because it is 50% owned by Airbus. Airbus is studying hydrogen-powered designs, including a turboprop. If this design proceeds, it most likely would be sold through ATR.
Longview Aviation Capital (LAC) bought the Q400 program from Bombardier, and with it, all the rights and tooling for the smaller, out-of-production Dash 8-100/200/300s. Longview renamed the Q400 the Dash 8-400, the original moniker.
Longview created a new unit for the Q400 program, naming it De Havilland Canada.
DHC can’t match the money and horsepower of ATR’s partnership with Airbus. Longview is part of the Thomson Reuters family money, providing some deep pockets.
“We fully expect worldwide demand for the Dash 8 to return once the industry has recovered from the pandemic, and the aircraft’s characteristics – including low operating costs, low emissions impact, and performance capabilities that support efficient regional operations – will make the Dash 8 an important part of the aviation industry’s post-pandemic recovery,” said David Curtis, executive chairman of Longview.
In a Feb. 17 statement, DHC said it “is introducing enhancements that will ensure the Dash 8 remains at the forefront of the regional aircraft market around the world.” These include:
DHC added, in response to LNA questions, that it is in discussions to relocate and restart the Dash 8-400 production line. Meantime, DHC offers aircraft from its inventory and seeks new orders.
“We have multiple opportunities to share resources, expertise and capacity with our LAC sister companies,” DHC says. “We are just starting to take advantage of this potential and are strengthened by being part of a robust aviation portfolio with patient long-term ownership.”
Coming from behind compared with ATR is a big challenge for DHC. It’s planning product improvements for upgrading the interior, life extension programs, and further noise reduction certification. DHC also will help lessors, and current owners remarket aircraft that became available during the pandemic.
Expanding cargo configuration uses, which ATR also offers, and non-commercial utility, fire-fighting, and military operations are objectives.
While ATR is studying alternative energy power sourcing, alone and in conjunction with Airbus, DHC embarked on its alternative studies even before the pandemic.
“We are exploring new propulsion technology options that will likely shape the future of aviation,” the company said. “De Havilland Canada and LAC are uniquely positioned to participate in this green journey by leveraging the unique capabilities of our aircraft platforms in the zero emissions challenge. We have had discussions with many parties on the ‘greening’ of aviation and are keen to see our products fulfill their potential for decades to come.”