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De Havilland Aircraft of Canada Dash 8-400 (Bombardier Q400)

Posted on October 04 2022

De Havilland Aircraft of Canada Dash 8-400 (Bombardier Q400) user+1@localho… Tue, 10/04/2022 - 21:17

The Dash 8-400 is a twin-engine turboprop airplane currently produced by Canadian manufacturer De Havilland Aircraft of Canada Ltd., itself a subsidiary of Canadian aerospace company Longview Aviation Capital Corp. Described on its Transport Canada type certificate data sheet (TCDS) as being a derivative of the DHC-8 Series 100 aircraft, this fourth series of the Dash 8 was first announced at the June 1987 Paris Air Show and launched eight years later in June 1995 at the same event. Its first flight took place on Jan. 31, 1998, from Toronto’s Downsview Airport, a flight that lasted 3 hr. and which was performed by an airframe registered as C-FJJA (serial no. 4001). Subsequently, three variants of the DHC-8 Series 400—the DHC-8-400, -401 and -402—were certified by Transport Canada on July 30, 1999, Aug. 3, 1999 and Aug. 4, 1999, respectively, with the first delivery of a Dash 8-400 taking place on Jan. 18, 2000, to SAS Commuter. Following that delivery, the first revenue flight by that operator—aboard a dual-class airplane configured with 72 seats—took place between Copenhagen and Poznan, Poland on Feb. 9, 2000. Improvements made by Bombardier to this series of DHC-8 airframes included increased-capacity and combination passenger/cargo variants, as well as what was marketed as the Q400 NextGen, an upgrade that was launched in March 2008 and first delivered on May 11, 2009, to Norwegian regional airline Wideroe.

Bombardier announced on Nov. 8, 2018, that the Dash 8 program—which, in addition to the Dash 8-400, includes the 100, 200 and 300 Series variants—would be sold to Longview Aviation Capital Corp. In addition to purchasing the Dash 8 program from Bombardier, Longview is also the parent company of Viking Air Ltd., which, in 2006, acquired the type certificates and manufacturing rights to all out-of-production de Havilland Canada aircraft—including the DHC-1 Chipmunk, DHC-2 Beaver, DHC-3 Otter, DHC-4 Caribou, DHC-5 Buffalo and DHC-7 (Dash 7)—as well as currently producing an upgraded variant of the DHC-6 Twin Otter dubbed the Twin Otter Series 400. Following the sale—which Bombardier noted would generate “gross proceeds of approximately $300 million” and included the assets, intellectual property and type certificates of the Dash 8 program—Longview noted that they would “become North America’s largest commercial turboprop aircraft manufacturer.” The sale of the Dash 8 program also represented the end of Bombardier’s involvement in the regional turboprop market, which the company entered in 1992 following its acquisition of de Havilland Canada from Boeing. Since 2008, the variants of the Q400 series were the only Dash 8 airframes produced.

Cabin Configurations/Outfitting/Volume and Passenger Capacity

In terms of passenger accommodations, the DHC-8-400, -401 and -402 are certified to maximum passenger capacities of 68, 70 and 90, respectively, in addition to the two required pilots and two required flight attendants. The current production variant of the type is the -402, a variant that can be configured in a 74-seat dual-class configuration, an 82-seat single-class configuration and a 90-seat “extra-capacity” configuration. The 74-seat dual-class configuration includes eight business-class seats and 66 main-cabin seats, while the single-class and extra-capacity accommodations are based on a single-class configuration. In a fuselage that has a maximum diameter of 8 ft. 10 in., the single-class configuration is advertised as having a seat pitch of 30 in., while the extra-capacity configuration reduces that figure to 28 in. In the dual-class configuration, the main-cabin seats retain the 30-in. pitch noted above, while the premium-class seats increase it to 36 in. When configured in a passenger-only layout, the cabin has a volume of 2,740 ft.3, with another 411 ft.3 available for cargo.

Promoted as being “the world’s only commercial turboprop capable of carrying 90 passengers,” the 90-seat extra-capacity configuration was launched by Bombardier on Feb. 17, 2016, with its seat costs marketed as being 15% less than the “previous standard” of the airframe. The company further noted that when equipped with 90 seats, the airframe “is ideally suited to markets in growing economies and low-cost business models,” markets “where both capacity and seat-mile costs are key.” The delivery of the first 90-seat Dash 8-400, to Indian low-cost carrier SpiceJet, was announced by Bombardier on Sept. 21, 2018, following a September 2017 order from that carrier. Prior to the introduction of the 90-seat configuration option, Bombardier developed an 86-seat configuration that removed the forward cargo hold used by some operators for excess cabin baggage and crew luggage, with the first delivery of an airframe configured with 86 seats occurring in August 2014 to Thai low-cost carrier Nok Air.

Additional features of the passenger-only Dash 8-400 cabin include aspects that improve the boarding process, the amount of overhead storage space available, the interior outfitting, the cabin noise level and the presence of a “true business class.” The “true business class” option allows the Dash 8-400 to be promoted as the only turboprop in the market to offer such accommodations, with the airframe able to be configured with three-abreast seating in business class, as opposed to the four-abreast seating available in the main cabin. The first dual-class configured Dash 8-400 was delivered to Ethiopian Airlines in 2012, with the configuration at the time of delivery including seven business-class seats and 60 economy-class seats. Passengers can board the airplane through doors that are located forward and aft, a feature that, in the turboprop market, is also noted as being unique. Supplementing this configuration allowing passengers to board at the forward and aft portions of the cabin is the fact that the airplane is also capable of using airport jetways.

Inside the cabin, the overhead bins are promoted as having the space to “easily accommodate 22 X 16 X 10.5-in. roller bags,” with stowage space available for 52 bags. Passenger-comfort features of the Dash 8-400 include “large windows that maximize natural light and improved LED lighting,” with the latter incorporating “sidewall and ceiling-wash LED cool lighting.” Furthermore, the noise level in the cabin is reduced by the Active Noise and Vibration Suppression system, which reduces noise levels to a point “lower than those of some jets.” An available option that further enhances the passenger experience is an inflight entertainment system that “allows passengers to access content on their personal devices.”

Avionics

Flight crews operate the Dash 8-400 using a Thales avionics system that includes five displays, single or dual UNS-1E flight management system(s) provided by Universal Avionics and a traffic alert and collision-avoidance system (TCAS). Other avionics capabilities include coupled vertical navigation (VNAV), the ability to utilize satellite-based augmentation systems (SBAS) such as the wide area augmentation system (WAAS) to conduct localizer performance with vertical guidance (LPV) approaches—in addition to having the ability to perform required navigational performance authorization required (RNP AR) approaches—automatic dependent surveillance—broadcast (ADS-B) Out, an enhanced ground-proximity warning system (EGPWS) and an Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS). Also available is a Class 2 electronic flight bag, as well as a head-up guidance system.

Mission and Performance

At the time that it was launched, the Dash 8-400 had other turboprop-powered competitors that included the Dornier 328 and Saab 2000, both of which could deliver comparable performance. Those competing airframes are no longer in production, however, and with respect to passenger capacity, the closest current competition for the Dash 8-400 in the commercial turboprop market is Avions de Transport Regional’s (ATR) ATR 72-600, which has a maximum certified capacity—with certain modifications made—of 78 passengers. Although the ATR 72 is not promoted as offering a business class, ATR does note that it is able to accommodate 72 seats with a 29-in. pitch, while the 78-seat maximum capacity requires a 28-in. pitch. An additional commonality between these airframes is the ability to offer a passenger/cargo combination (combi) configuration, with the ATR 72 marketed as being able to carry 44 passengers and 6,830 lb. of cargo in that type of configuration. In spite of those similarities, the ATR 72 does not offer the ability to match the Dash 8-400’s 90-seat capacity or range, while other performance metrics—including takeoff and landing distances—maximum weights and cargo capacity are higher on the de Havilland-produced airplane.

With regard to the performance differences between the ATR 72 and Dash 8-400, the maximum operating limit speed (VMO) listed below for the latter is 36 kt. greater than the 250-kt. limitation in the FAA TCDS for the ATR 72-212A. In addition to having a higher VMO, the Dash 8-400’s capabilities at both high and low airspeeds were also promoted by Bombardier, with the former benefits in comparison to jets noted below. At “lower speeds,” the airplane was promoted as having “the same trip cost as competing turboprops,” while also being able to accommodate “up to 14 more seats.”

From a performance perspective, the Dash 8-400 is limited to a VMO of 286 kt. indicated airspeed (KIAS) between 18,000 and 20,000 ft., as well as a maximum-operating altitude of 25,000 ft. In addition to that airspeed limitation, this Dash 8 variant is promoted as having long-range, intermediate, high-speed and maximum cruise speeds of 300, 320, 340 and 360 kt., respectively. The 25,000-ft. operating limitation is supplemented by the fact that the airframe is capable of operating at airports up to 10,000 ft. in elevation. Beyond those certified limitations, Bombardier promoted the Q400 as being able to operate to an altitude of 27,000 ft. and from airports as high as 14,000 ft.

Based on an average passenger weight of 225 lb., the range of the higher maximum takeoff weight (MTOW) version of the airframe (67,199 lb.) is promoted as being 1,100 nm. Assuming an MTOW of 61,700 lb. and a 60,500-lb. maximum landing weight (MLW)—as well as assuming standard conditions and sea-level altitude—the Dash 8-400’s respective takeoff and landing distances are 4,265 ft. and 4,160 ft. At the higher MTOW—and with a 64,000-lb. MLW, standard conditions and sea-level altitude—those distances are increased to 4,675 ft. and 4,229 ft. Those performance capabilities are supplemented by the Dash 8-400’s ability to use runways with a slope of up to 4.6%—in addition to those which are unpaved—conduct steep approaches and operate in temperatures as low as -54C [-65F]. The airplane’s avionics, short-field performance, superior climb profile and “special operations capabilities”—the previously discussed ability to conduct RNP and steep approaches, as well as operate from gravel and narrow runways—are promoted as allowing it to “profitably operate out of the most challenging airports.” In comparison to conventional turboprop airplanes, the Dash 8-400’s airspeed is noted as being 30% faster, while its high-speed cruise speed is promoted as “plac[ing] [it] within minutes of jet schedules.”

Variants

Dash 8-400 Series

 

DHC-8-400

DHC-8-401

DHC-8-402

Maximum Passenger Capacity

68

70

90

Maximum Range (nm)

1,102

Engines (2x)

Pratt & Whitney Canada PW150A

Maximum Takeoff Rating (shp)

5,071

Maximum Takeoff Weight (MTOW) (lb.)

61,700/67,199

Maximum Landing Weight (lb.)

60,500/64,000

Fuel Capacity (usable) (gal./lb.)

1,724/11,724

Wingspan

93 ft. 3 in.

Wing Area (ft.2)

689

Length

107 ft. 9 in.

Height

27 ft. 5 in.

PW150A Engines

In keeping with the first three series of the DHC-8 type, the Dash 8-400 is powered by a pair of Pratt & Whitney Canada engines. Those engines are the PW150A variant that has a power rating at takeoff of 5,071 shp and is flat-rated to 22.4C (72.32F). Those engines power two Dowty Aerospace model R408/6-123-F/17 variable-pitch composite propeller blades that are electronically controlled and which have a nominal blade diameter of 13.5 ft. When compared to “conventional turboprops,” the combination of passenger capacity and speed are marketed as enabling the variants of the Dash 8-400 series to complete “at least one extra flight per day,” enabling the “generation of 30% more ASK (available seat kilometers).” When configured to carry 90 passengers, the airframe is further promoted as having per-seat costs on a 300-nm trip that are 20% lower than competing 76-seat turboprops, as well as a trip cost that is half that of a large single-aisle jet equipped with 170 seats.

Dash 8-400 Design

In comparison to the DHC-8 Series 300, the Dash 8-400 represents a 23 ft. 6 in. stretch, with modifications also made to the ailerons and flaps, and the inner-wing configuration and main landing gear—“including [the] wheels and brakes”—being new. Systems that were improved on these variants of the DHC-8 include the avionics, electrical, environmental control, flight controls and hydraulics.

Dash 8-400 Passenger-Cargo Combi Configuration

Beyond the passenger-only configurations, this Dash 8 variant also is available in a combi configuration that reduces the amount of space available for passenger seating, while increasing the space for cargo. Promoted as combining “the revenue flexibility of a large cargo hold with the speed and passenger comfort of a modern regional aircraft,” this configuration option for the Dash 8-400—which was previously marketed as the Q400 cargo-combi aircraft—was “unveiled” at the 2014 Farnborough International Airshow. Subsequently, the delivery of the first airframe in this configuration—to Japanese regional carrier Ryukyu Air Commuter, part of the Japan Airlines Group—was announced on Dec. 31, 2015. As a result of the increased cargo space available with this configuration, the passenger capacity decreased to 50 with seats that have a 32-in. pitch. However, when that pitch is decreased to 29 in., the passenger capacity is able to be increased to 58, with the maximum capacity of a cargo-combi configured airplane noted as being 68. In comparison to the passenger cabin volume noted above, the cargo-combi configuration reduces that volume to “up to 2,277 ft.3,” while the amount of space available for cargo is increased to 1,150 ft.3. Beyond increasing the space available in the cabin for cargo, the maximum weight of cargo that can be accommodated is similarly increased, with that limitation being more than doubled according to Bombardier’s marketing documents. While the maximum cargo weight of a passenger-only configured Dash 8-400 is 3,800 lb., that limit is increased to 9,000 lb. with the combi configuration. An additional feature of the Dash 8-400 cargo-combi airplane is the Class-C cargo compartment.

Dash 8-400 Simplified Package Freighter

In addition to the passenger-cargo combi configuration that available to the Dash 8-400, a full-freighter configuration of the airframe is also available, a layout that is “applicable to all current passenger configurations” and which was “approved by Transport Canada to support [the] airlift of freight during the Covid-19 pandemic.” Announced by De Havilland on April 23, 2020, and launched by Kenyan operator 748 Air Services, the service bulletins for the Simplified Package Freighter replaces the passenger seats and seat-track covers, while installing cargo nets that have adjustable straps on the seat tracks. Each of the 17 cargo nets has a capacity 750 lb. and a volume of 33 ft.3, while the replacement of the seats with those 17 nets results in the Dash 8-400’s cabin having a potential payload of “up to” 17,960 lb.—divided between the cargo area and passenger cabin—and total cargo volume that can reach 1,150 ft.3 The first operator of the Simplified Package Freighter was Canadian regional airline Jazz Aviation, which ordered the service bulletin for the conversion and conversion kits for 13 Dash 8-400 airframes. Operated under the Air Canada Express brand, converted airplanes operated by Jazz were meant to serve short and medium-range markets. While the approval of the modifications for the Special Package Freighter configuration were temporarily approved by Transport Canada through July 31, 2021, De Havilland is working to receive permanent certification for those changes.

Environmental Performance: Emissions, Fuel Burn and Noise

Beyond its performance and revenue-generating capabilities, Bombardier also promoted the Dash 8-400 as having “the lowest fuel consumption per passenger of any turboprop.” On a 300-nm flight, it produces—on a per-seat basis—8% less carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions than competing turboprops. When compared to in-production 70-seat regional jets (RJ) and out-of-production 50-seat RJs, the reduction in CO2 emissions is touted as being greater than 35% and 45%, respectively, on a 500-nm flight. Specific to short-haul routes where the Dash 8-400 has replaced an RJ of similar capacity, the de Havilland turboprop “burns 30% less fuel and produces 30% lower emissions,” a reduction that is equal to 4,000 metric tons of CO2 per airplane per year. Another way in which the Dash 8-400 improves on the environmental performance of in-production 70-seat RJs is with respect to noise, with the noise footprint of the airplane touted as being “up to” 2.5 times less. Furthermore, the community noise created by the PW150A engines is noted as being “significantly reduced, making [the airframe] ideal for city-center airports.” The airframe’s margin to the Stage 4 noise standard is 15.3 effective perceived noise level in decibels (EPNdB), with a benefit of the Dowty Aerospace propellers’ “lower rpm” being that they “generate more power with less noise.”

Program Status/Operators

According to Longview’s press release announcing the purchase of the Dash 8 program, they “will continue to independently operate the program at the original de Havilland manufacturing site located at” Toronto Downsview, a facility that was sold by Bombardier in May 2018 for $635 million. The type certificate for all variants of the DHC-8 was transferred from Bombardier, Inc. to De Havilland Aircraft of Canada Ltd. on June 1, 2019, with the sale of the program also closing that month.

References

  • AWIN Article Archives
  • ATR, Bombardier and De Havilland Aircraft of Canada Ltd. Commercial Materials
  • FAA TCDS (ATR 72-212A and DHC-8 Series 400) and Transport Canada TCDS (DHC-8 Series 400 and PW150A)
Channel
Commercial Aviation
Market Indicator Code
Commercial
Article page size
10
Profile page size
2
Program Profile ID
1108