Printed headline: De Havilland After Bombardier
De Havilland Aircraft of Canada (De Havilland Canada) has been focused on ensuring business as usual for Dash 8 operators during the transfer of the program from Bombardier to new parent company Longview Aviation Capital (LAC). The deal closed in June.
“When we started the transition . . . one of the fundamentals was that there would be no impact to our customers,” says De Havilland Canada Chief Operating Officer Todd Young.
The aircraft’s support network was built as part of Bombardier’s service centers that also cared for the CRJ and C Series (now Airbus A220) aircraft.
After reviewing the network, De Havilland Canada decided on five regional support offices in addition to Toronto—Munich, Johannesburg, Tokyo, New Delhi and Sydney—with all the Dash 8 support staff in those locations having now moved over from Bombardier.
On the spares side of the business, “We’ve not changed anything to date,” Young says. “In fact, we’re still working with Bombardier. They’re providing a service to us, and we’re utilizing the Bombardier distribution network for parts, so we still have the distribution network we had previously.”
In the longer term, the company plans to move over to its own distribution network, although there is no timeline for this. “We’ve got a good agreement with Bombardier; we’re going to take the time to make sure the network for our distribution centers make sense for the Dash 8 program,” Young says.
On the servicing side, some changes are afoot. During the Bombardier era, some of the company’s approved service facilities (ASF) were dedicated to the Dash 8 family, while others catered to all Bombardier models. In the latter case, the Dash 8 portions of the combined ASFs have been reassigned to De Havilland Canada, to maintain the aircraft’s worldwide support network.
Young says that going forward, “there could be some subtle changes in location of a depot that would place it closer to our Dash 8 customers, as opposed to how we did it before, looking at Dash 8, CRJ and C Series customers.”
Among the changes to the Dash 8-400’s cabin is the ability to use Expliseat ultra-lightweight seats to allow the aircraft to operate at airports with short runways or other obstacles that could otherwise limit payloads.
India’s SpiceJet received the first Dash 8-400 aircraft with an Expliseat TiSeat E2 installation last December. SpiceJet operates the Dash 8-400 in a high-density 90-seat configuration.
De Havilland Canada announced at the Paris Air Show in June that it has chosen to make this seat, which weighs 6.5 kg (14 lb.), an optional feature for all customers, either on the production line or as a retrofit.
SpiceJet’s 90-seat configuration has a 28-in. seat pitch: “To go any lower than that, I think, would be bordering on uncomfortable,” Young says. “If we wanted to go to even higher capacity, our option would be to stretch the aircraft further. We’ve done design studies on it,” but De Havilland needs to determine if there is a market for it, he adds.
“Conversely, we have a lot of questions being asked about the 50-seater again,” Young confirms.
Young also says that under the ownership of LAC, “I think as a program we will have more opportunities to explore improvements to the airplane.
“One option we could look at is the Dash 8-300 that we used to produce,” he adds. “Would there be an opportunity to start the assembly line again? Another option is to shorten the Dash 8-400. There’s a number of things we could explore.”