The De Havilland Canada DHC-8, commonly known as the Dash 8, is a series of turboprop-powered regional airliners, introduced by de Havilland Canada (DHC) in 1984. DHC was later bought by Boeing in 1988, then by Bombardier in 1992; then by Longview Aviation Capital in 2019, reviving the de Havilland Canada brand. Powered by two Pratt & Whitney Canada PW100s, it was developed from the Dash 7 with improved cruise performance, lowered operational costs but without STOL performance. Three sizes were offered: initially the 37–40 seat -100 until 2005 and the more powerful -200 from 1995, the stretched 50–56 seats -300 from 1989, both until 2009, and the 68–90 seats -400 from 1999, still in production. The Q Series are post-1997 variants with quieter cabins.
In the 1970s, de Havilland Canada had invested heavily in its Dash 7 project, concentrating on STOL and short-field performance, the company's traditional area of expertise. Using four medium-power engines with large, four-bladed propellers resulted in comparatively lower noise levels, which combined with its excellent STOL characteristics, made the Dash 7 suitable for operating from small in-city airports, a market DHC felt would be compelling. However, only a handful of air carriers employed the Dash 7, as most regional airlines were more interested in operational costs than short-field performance.
In 1980, de Havilland responded by dropping the short-field performance requirement and adapting the basic Dash 7 layout to use only two, more powerful engines. Its favoured engine supplier, Pratt & Whitney Canada, developed the new PW100 series engines for the role, more than doubling the power from its PT6. Originally designated the PT7A-2R engine, it later became the PW120. When the Dash 8 rolled out on April 19, 1983, more than 3,800 hours of testing had been accumulated over two years on five PW100 series test engines. The Dash 8 first flight was on June 20, 1983.
Certification of the PW120 followed on December 16, 1983.
The Dash 8 was introduced at a particularly advantageous time; most airlines were in the process of adding new aircraft to their fleets as the airline industry expanded greatly in the 1980s. The older generation of regional airliners from the 1950s and 1960s was nearing retirement, leading to high sales figures. De Havilland Canada was unable to meet the demand with sufficient production.
In 1986, Boeing bought the company in a bid to improve production at DHC's Downsview Airport plants, as well as better position itself to compete for a new Air Canada order for large intercontinental airliners. Air Canada was a crown corporation at the time, and both Boeing and Airbus were competing heavily via political channels for the contract. It was eventually won by Airbus, which received an order for 34 A320 aircraft in a highly controversial move. The allegations of bribery are today known as the Airbus affair. Following its failure in the competition, Boeing immediately put de Havilland Canada up for sale. The company was eventually purchased by Bombardier in 1992.
The market for new aircraft to replace existing turboprops once again grew in the mid-1990s, and DHC responded with the improved "Series 400" design.
All Dash 8s delivered from the second quarter of 1996 (including all Series 400s) include the Active Noise and Vibration System designed to reduce cabin noise and vibration levels to nearly those of jet airliners. To emphasize their quietness, Bombardier renamed the Dash 8 models as the Q-Series turboprops (Q200, Q300, and Q400).
The last Dash 8–100, a –102, was built in 2005.
In April 2008, Bombardier announced that production of the classic versions (Series 100, 200, 300) would be ended, leaving the Series 400 as the only Dash 8 still in production.
Production of the Q200 and Q300 was to cease in May 2009.
Bombardier proposed development of a Q400 stretch with two plug-in segments, called the Q400X project, in 2007. It would compete in the 90-seat market range. In response to this project, as of November 2007, ATR was studying a 90-seat stretch.
In June 2009, Bombardier commercial aircraft president Gary Scott indicated that the Q400X will be "definitely part of our future" for possible introduction in 2013–14, although he did not detail the size of the proposed version or commit to an introduction date.
As of July 2010, Bombardier's vice president, Phillipe Poutissou, made comments explaining the company was still studying the prospects of designing the Q400X and talking with potential customers. At the time, Bombardier was not as committed to the Q400X as it had been previously. As of May 2011, Bombardier was still strongly committed to the stretch, but envisioned it as more likely as a 2015 or later launch, complicating launch date matters were new powerplants from GE and PWC to be introduced in 2016. As of February 2012, Bombardier was still studying the issue, but as of 2011, the launch date was no longer targeted for the 2014 range. At least a three-year delay was envisioned.
In October 2012, a joint development deal with a government-led South Korean consortium was revealed, to develop a 90-seater turboprop regional airliner, targeting a 2019 launch date. The consortium was to have included Korea Aerospace Industries and Korean Air Lines.
At the February 2016 Singapore Airshow, Bombardier announced a high-density, 90-seat layout of the Q400, which should enter service in 2018; keeping the 28 in (71 cm) seat pitch of the Nok Air 86-seats, an extra row of seats is allowed by changing the configuration of the front right door and moving back the aft pressure bulkhead. The payload is increased by 2,000 pounds (910 kg) and the aircraft maintenance check intervals are increased: 800 hours from 600 for an A-check and 8,000 hours from 6,000 for a C-check. By August 2018, the 90-seat variant was certified before delivery to launch customer SpiceJet later in the same year.
Bombardier wanted to produce the Q400 more economically; its machinists union allowed in June 2017 assembly of the wings and cockpit section outside Canada and searches for potential partners. Bombardier expected to produce the cockpit section in its plant in Queretaro, Mexico, outsourcing the wings to China's Shenyang Aircraft Corp, which already builds the Q400's centre fuselage.
On 8 November 2018, Viking Air parent Longview Aviation Capital Corporation acquired the Dash 8 program and the de Havilland brand from Bombardier, in a deal that should close by the second half of 2019. Viking had already acquired the discontinued de Havilland Canada aircraft model type certificates in 2006.
By November 2018 the sales of the higher-performance Q400 were slower than the cheaper ATR Aircraft. Bombardier announced the sale was for $300 million and expects $250 million net. The sale will result in $250 million annual savings. Bombardier also sold its business jet training program to CAE Inc. for $645 million and announced 5,000 job cuts over 18 months within 70,000 employees worldwide: 500 within 6,500 in Ontario, 2,500 in Quebec and 2,000 outside Canada.
In January 2019, Longview announced that it would establish a new company in Ontario, reviving the de Havilland Aircraft Company of Canada name, to continue production of the Q400 and support the Dash 8 range. By February, the program sale was expected to close at the end of September.
On June 3, 2019 the sale was closed with the newly formed De Havilland Canada (DHC) taking control of the Dash 8 program, including the previous -100, -200, and -300 series. Production of the Q400 is currently planned to continue at the Downsview production facility, under DHC's management. De Havilland is considering a 50-seat shrink, as North American airlines operate 870 ageing 50-seaters, mostly CRJs and Embraer ERJs.
Distinguishing features of the Dash 8 design are the large T-tail intended to keep the tail free of prop wash during takeoff, a very high aspect ratio wing, the elongated engine nacelles also holding the rearward-folding landing gear, and the pointed nose profile.
The Dash 8 design has better cruise performance than the Dash 7, is less expensive to operate, and is much less expensive to maintain, due largely to having only two engines. It is a little noisier than the Dash 7 and cannot match the STOL performance of its earlier DHC forebears, although it is still able to operate from small airports with runways 3,000 ft (910 m) long, compared to the 2,200 ft (670 m) required by a fully laden Dash 7.
The introduction of the regional jet altered the sales picture. Although more expensive than turboprops, regional jets allow airlines to operate passenger services on routes not suitable for turboprops. Turboprop aircraft have lower fuel consumption and can operate from shorter runways than regional jets, but have higher engine maintenance costs, shorter ranges, and lower cruising speeds.
When world oil prices drove up short-haul airfares in 2006, an increasing number of airlines that had bought regional jets began to reassess turboprop regional airliners, which use about 30–60% less fuel than regional jets. Although the market was not as robust as in the 1980s when the first Dash 8s were introduced, 2007 had increased sales of the only two 40+ seat regional turboprops still in western production, Bombardier's Q400 and its competitor, the ATR series of 50– to 70-seat turboprops. The Q400 has a cruising speed close to that of most regional jets, and its mature engines and systems require less frequent maintenance, reducing its disadvantage.
As the Q400's 360-knot (414-mph, 667-km/h) cruise speed approaches jet speeds, short-haul airlines can usually replace a regional jet with a Q400 without changing their gate-to-gate schedules. Most short-haul routes are less than 350 miles (500 km), so the time spent on taxiing, taking off, and landing virtually eliminates a competing jet's speed advantage.
According to Bombardier marketing, the aircraft breaks even with about a third of its seats filled (or a quarter with more closely spaced seats), making it particularly attractive on routes with varying passenger numbers where many seats would be empty on some flights. For example, Island Air in Hawaii calculated that the use of a 50-seat regional jet would break even at 45 passenger seats compared to the Q400's 35–36 seats (around 55% breakeven load factor).
In 2013, Bombardier was singling out the Q400 for more aggressive marketing, having launched a website centered around the aircraft.
The aircraft has been delivered in four series. The Series 100 has a maximum capacity of 39, the Series 200 has the same capacity but offers more powerful engines, the Series 300 is a stretched, 50-seat version, and the Series 400 is further stretched to 90 passengers. Models delivered after 1997 have cabin noise suppression and are designated with the prefix "Q". Production of the Series 100 ceased in 2005, followed by the 200 and 300 in 2009, leaving the Q400 as the only series still in production.
The Series 100 was the original 37- to 39-passenger version of the Dash 8 that entered service in 1984. The original engine was the Pratt & Whitney Canada PW120 and later units used the PW121. Rated engine power is 1,800 shp (1,340 kW).
The Series 200 aircraft maintained the same 37–39 passenger airframe as the original Series 100, but was re-engined for improved performance. The Series 200 used the more powerful Pratt & Whitney Canada PW123 engines rated at 2,150 shp (1,600 kW).
The Series 300 introduced a longer airframe that was stretched 3.43 metres (11.3 ft) over the Series 100/200 and has a passenger capacity of 50–56. The Series 300 also used the Pratt & Whitney Canada PW123 engines. Rated engine power is between 2,380 shp (1,774 kW) and 2,500 shp (1,864 kW). Design service life is 80,000 flight cycles. Under an extended service program launched in 2017, the service life of Dash 8-300 is extended by 50 per cent, or approximately 15 years, to 120,000 flight cycles.
The Series 400 introduced an even longer airframe that was stretched 6.83 metres (22.4 ft) over the Series 300 (10.26 metres (33.7 ft) over the Series 100/200), has a larger, stouter T-tail and has a passenger capacity of 68–90. The Series 400 uses Pratt & Whitney Canada PW150A engines rated at 4,850 shp (3,620 kW). The aircraft has a cruise speed of 360 knots (667 km/h), which is 60–90 knots (111–166 km/h) higher than its predecessors. The maximum operating altitude is 25,000 ft (7,600 m) for the standard version, although a version with drop-down oxygen masks is offered, which increases maximum operating altitude to 27,000 ft (8,200 m).
Between its service entry in 2000 and the 2018 sale to Longview/Viking, 585 have been delivered at a rate of 30-35 per year, leaving a backlog of 65, for a market value at a stable level of $21 million new.
By 2017, the Q400 aircraft had logged 7 million flight hours with 60 operators and transported over 400 million passengers with a dispatch reliability over 99.5%.
By July 2018, 844 Dash 8s were in airline service: 143 Series 100 with 35 operators, 42 Series 200 with 16 operators, 151 Series 300 with 32 operators and 508 Q400s. By then, 56 orders were in backlog.
Orders and deliveries
Accidents and incidents
- April 15, 1988: Horizon Air Flight 2658, operated by DHC-8-102 N819PH suffered an engine fire on climb-out from Seattle/Tacoma International Airport. An emergency landing was made but the aircraft struck equipment on the ground before crashing into two jetways. N819PH was destroyed by fire; there were no fatalities.
- November 23, 2009: a DHC-8-200, being operated on behalf of United States Africa Command, made an emergency landing at Tarakigné, Mali and was substantially damaged when the undercarriage collapsed and the starboard wing was ripped off. The accident was caused by the aircraft running out of fuel 29 seconds before the crash. The captain had opted not to refuel at the previous departure airport.
- April 9, 2012: Air Tanzania Dash 8 5H-MWG was written off at Kigoma Airport, Tanzania in an aborted take off. All 39 people on board survived.
- September 30, 2015: Luxair Flight 9562 experienced an aborted takeoff accident at Saarbrücken Airport in Germany. The Bombardier Q400 LX-LGH was damaged beyond repair when it settled back onto the runway after the gear was raised prematurely. The aircraft slid 2,400 feet and came to a stop with more than 1,100 feet remaining of the 6,562 foot paved runway. None of the 20 occupants were injured.
- May 8, 2019: Biman Bangladesh Airlines Flight 60, a Dash-8 Q400 slid off Runway 21 at Yangon International Airport, Burma, and broke into three pieces as it performed a go-around on landing. The flight originated in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Poor weather was cited as a contributing factor. At least 17 people were injured.
In September 2007, two separate accidents of similar landing gear failures occurred within four days of each other on Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) Dash 8-Q400 aircraft. A third accident occurred in October 2007, leading to the withdrawal of the type from the airline's fleet.
On September 9, 2007 the crew of SAS Flight 1209, en route from Copenhagen to Aalborg, reported problems with the locking mechanism of the right side landing gear, and Aalborg Airport was prepared for an emergency landing. Shortly after touchdown the right main gear collapsed and the airliner skidded off the runway while fragments of the right propeller shot against the cabin and the right engine caught fire. Of 69 passengers and four crew on board, 11 were sent to hospital, five with minor injuries. The accident was filmed by a local news channel (TV2-Nord) and broadcast live on national television.
Three days later on September 12, Scandinavian Airlines Flight 2748 from Copenhagen to Palanga had a similar problem with the landing gear, forcing the aircraft to land in Vilnius international airport (Lithuania). No passengers or crew were injured. Immediately after this accident SAS grounded all 33 Q400 airliners in its fleet and, a few hours later, Bombardier recommended that all Q400s with more than 10,000 flights be grounded until further notice. This affected about 60 aircraft, out of 140 Q400s then in service.
On October 27, 2007, Scandinavian Airlines Flight 2867 en route from Bergen to Copenhagen had severe problems with the landing gear during landing in Kastrup Airport. The right wing gear did not deploy properly (or partially), and the aircraft skidded off the runway in a controlled emergency landing. The Q400 was carrying 38 passengers, two infants and four crew members on board. No injuries were reported. The next day, SAS permanently removed its entire Dash 8 Q400 fleet from service. In a press release on October 28, 2007, the company's president said: "Confidence in the Q400 has diminished considerably and our customers are becoming increasingly doubtful about flying in this type of aircraft. Accordingly, with the Board of Directors' approval, I have decided to immediately remove Dash 8 Q400 aircraft from service." The preliminary Danish investigation determined the latest Q400 incident was unrelated to the airline's earlier corrosion problems, in this particular case caused by a misplaced O-ring found blocking the orifice in the restrictor valve.
In all, eight Q400s had landing gear failures while landing during 2007: four in Denmark, one in Germany, one in Japan, one in Lithuania and one in South Korea. In November 2007, it was revealed that the Swedish Civil Aviation Administration had begun an investigation and found Scandinavian Airlines System culpable of cutting corners in its maintenance department. The airline reportedly made 2,300 flights in which safety equipment was not up to standard. On March 10, 2008, SAS ordered 27 more aircraft from Bombardier in a compensation deal: 14 Q400 NextGen turboprops and 13 CRJ900 jets.
On August 19, 2018, a Q400-200 of LC Peru on a flight from Lima to Ayacucho had to return to Lima and make an emergency landing due to a nose gear that could not be lowered. The aircraft landed without the nose gear down.
On November 15, 2018 a Q300-315 belonging to PAL Airlines was unable to lower its nose gear while trying to land at Deer Lake, Newfoundland, diverted to Stephenville, Newfoundland and carried out a nose gear up landing.
Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era
- 29–34 seats British Aerospace Jetstream 41 Dornier 328 Embraer EMB 120 Brasilia Saab 340
- 42–60 seats Antonov An-140 ATR 42 Fokker 50 Saab 2000 Xian MA60
- 64–78 seats ATR 72 British Aerospace ATP Ilyushin Il-114