De Havilland Aircraft of Canada Limited ("De Havilland Canada") today reaffirmed its long-term commitment to the global Dash 8 operator community and outlined the path forward for the Dash 8 aircraft program. While the pandemic has ravaged the global aviation industry, De Havilland Canada is making future-oriented investments in its organization, systems and infrastructure to enhance the Dash 8 platform for current and future aircraft operators.
"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 Aviation Capital, De Havilland Canada's parent company. "The quality of the aircraft is demonstrated by the fact that we have significantly outperformed our competitors since the onset of the pandemic, delivering 11 aircraft to customers in 2020. While industry conditions remain challenging, we are looking to the future by enhancing our ability to support Dash 8 operators, and taking the necessary organizational steps to ensure we are ready to meet industry demand as the aviation industry recovers."
Investing in the Dash 8 Platform
De Havilland Canada is introducing enhancements that will ensure the Dash 8 remains at the forefront of the regional aircraft market around the world:
- Investing significant capital in the Customer Services and Support team, distribution network and information technology to reduce the operating cost of the Dash 8 platform
- Developing upgrades and modifications to the Dash 8, including packages that create a best-in-class freighter with unmatched operating and financial attributes
- Introducing cabin refurbishment features such as an overhead bin extension solution which improves the cost-efficiency of in-service Dash 8
- Actively innovating across the aircraft platform, including product improvements that will reduce operating and ownership costs and help prepare Dash 8 fleets for the aviation industry's move to greater sustainability.
In addition to these investments, De Havilland Canada continues to provide 24/7/365 customer support, and inventory over 35,000 part numbers required to serve the operating fleet from parts distribution locations in Canada and around the globe.
New Aircraft Production Pause
Given that prevailing industry circumstances have hindered the ability to confirm new aircraft sales, De Havilland Canada will not produce new Dash 8-400 aircraft at its Downsview site beyond currently confirmed orders. This is a responsible and prudent measure that reflects current industry conditions, and will limit strain on the market and De Havilland Canada's supply base as the pandemic recovery occurs. Approximately 500 employees will be affected by the production pause.
De Havilland Canada's objective is to resume new aircraft delivery at the earliest possible time, subject to market demand.
Downsview Production Site
The Downsview production site was sold by the previous owner Bombardier in 2018, with deadlines for the site and runway to be decommissioned. Pursuant to Bombardier's sale agreement, the Dash 8 program's current site lease expires in 2021. Accordingly, De Havilland Canada has begun preparing to leave the site over the latter part of the year. There are a number of excellent production site options in Canada, and the company will be ready to meet new aircraft demand as the industry recovers.
Added Mr. Curtis: "The transition from Downsview is a step in the planned evolution of the Dash 8 platform away from its former owner, and is an important part of our vision for Longview Aviation Capital as a leading global aviation company. While this evolution is taking place against the backdrop of unprecedented industry circumstances, we see a bright future for De Havilland Canada and the Dash 8. The Dash 8 is a segment defining aircraft, and it has never been in better hands – strengthened by being part of a robust aviation portfolio with patient long-term ownership. We are also the only company to have successfully re-launched an out-of-production aircraft, with our team bringing the renowned Series 400 Twin Otter back into production. We are fully committed to the Dash 8 and intend to further enhance its capabilities and performance, and remain a leader of the regional aircraft market of the future.
"We are sensitive to the impact that a production pause will have on our employees, and are committed to treating everyone with transparency and respect. This decision is no reflection on the quality of our team, which has performed exceedingly well through the disruptions of the past year."