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De Havilland Aircraft of Canada Ltd. is planning to pause production of its staple Dash 8-400 turboprop at its Toronto-based Downsview facility once orders for the type this year are built. The decision is in response to the current industry conditions, which “have hindered the ability to confirm new aircraft sales,” the company said in a press release. The production pause will affect approximately 500 employees.
“This is a responsible and prudent measure . . . and will limit strain on the market and De Havilland Canada’s supply base as the pandemic recovery occurs.”
In an effort to avoid building “whitetail” aircraft — aircraft that are built but not sold to any customer — the airframe manufacturer has alerted suppliers to stop sending parts for new Dash 8 aircraft, Leeham News reported.
De Havilland Canada is currently leasing the Downsview facility, which was previously owned by Bombardier. The Downsview lease is set to expire in 2021, and De Havilland Canada has “begun preparing to leave the site over the latter part of the year,” the company said, adding that there are “a number of excellent production site options in Canada.”
The transition from the Downsview facility “is a step in the planned evolution of the Dash 8 platform away from its former owner,” said David Curtis, executive chairman of Longview Aviation Capital, De Havilland Canada’s parent company.
The manufacturer said its objective is to ultimately resume new aircraft delivery at the earliest possible time, subject to market demand. “We fully expect worldwide demand for the Dash 8 to return once the industry has recovered from the pandemic,” said Curtis.
De Havilland Canada delivered 11 Dash 8 aircraft to operators in 2020, including Biman Bangladesh Airlines and Ethiopian Airlines. In January 2021, firefighting operator Conair Group announced the purchase of 11 Dash 8-400 aircraft, which it intends to convert to airtankers.
Despite the production pause, De Havilland Canada introduced a number of “enhancements that will ensure the Dash 8 remains at the forefront of the regional aircraft market around the world.”
The company is developing upgrades and modifications to the Dash 8, including packages that create a freighter with “unmatched operating and financial attributes.”
De Havilland Canada is also investing “significant capital” in customer support, distribution, and information technology to reduce the operating cost of the Dash 8 platform. Product improvements are also expected to reduce operating and ownership costs and make moves toward sustainability.
In addition to the aforementioned investments, the airframe manufacturer said it will remain committed to providing customer support, as well as inventory of over 35,000 part numbers required to serve the operating fleet from global warehouses.