The Bombardier Dash 8 (formerly the de Havilland Canada Dash 8, sometimes abbreviated as DHC-8) is a series of twin-engined, medium range, turboprop airliners. Introduced by de Havilland Canada (DHC) in 1984, they are now produced by Bombardier Aerospace. Since 1996, the aircraft have been known as the Q Series, for "quiet". Over 1000 Dash 8s of all models have been built. Bombardier forecasts a total production run of 1,192 units of all Dash8/QSeries variants through to the year 2016.
Design and development
In the 1970s, de Havilland Canada had invested heavily in their Dash 7 project, creating what was essentially a larger four-engine version of their Twin Otter, concentrating on excellent STOL (Short Takeoff And Landing) and short-field performance, their traditional area of expertise. Using four medium-power engines with large four-bladed propellers resulted in very low 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. Their favoured engine supplier, Pratt & Whitney Canada, developed the new PW100 series engines for the role, more than doubling the power from their PT6. Originally designated the PT7A-2R engine, it later became the PW120. When the Dash 8 rolled out on 19 April 1983, more than 3800 hours of testing had been accumulated over two years on five PW100 series test engines. Certification of the PW120 followed in late 1983.
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. First flight was on 20 June 1983, and the airliner entered service in 1984 with NorOntair. Piedmont Airlines, formerly Henson Airlines, was the first US customer for the Dash 8 in 1984.
The Dash 8 design had better cruise performance than the Dash 7, was less expensive to operate, and much less expensive to maintain due largely to having only two engines. The Dash 8 had the lowest cost per passenger mile of any regional airliner of the era. It was a little noisier than the extremely quiet Dash 7, and could not match the superb STOL performance of its earlier DHC forebears, although it was still able to operate from small airports with 3,000-ft (1,000 m) runways, as against 2,200 ft (670 m) required by a fully loaded Dash 7.
In April 2008, Bombardier announced that the Classic versions (Series 100, 200, 300) would be out of the production line, making the Series 400 the only Dash 8 still in production. 660 Dash 8 Classics were produced, the last one delivered to Air Nelson in May 2008.
Bombardier is studying development of a 90- to 100-seat stretch of the Q400 with two plug-in segments, currently called the Q400X project. In response to this project, ATR is also studying a 90-seat stretch.
The Dash 8 was introduced at a particularly advantageous time; most airlines were in the process of adding new aircraft to their fleet 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 1988, Boeing bought the company in a bid to improve production at DHC's Downsview Airport plants, as well as better position themselves 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, who received an order for 34 A320 aircraft in a highly controversial move. The allegations of bribery are today known as the Airbus affair. Following their failure in the competition, Boeing immediately put de Havilland Canada up for sale. The company was eventually purchased by Bombardier in 1992.
The market demand for short-haul airliners was so great that Aerospatiale of France paired with Italy's Alenia to form ATR. Their once separate efforts combined to compete directly with the Dash 8. The resulting ATR 42 was even less expensive than the Dash 8, but de Havilland Canada responded with newer models to close the gap. Other companies competed with smaller or more tailored designs, like the Saab 340 and Embraer Brasilia, but by the time these were introduced the market was already reaching saturation.
All Dash 8s delivered from the second quarter of 1996 (including all Series 400s) include the Active Noise and Vibration Suppression (ANVS) 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 Dash 8-100 is no longer in production, with the last Dash 8-102 built in 2005. Production of the Q200 and Q300 will cease in May 2009.
Regional jet competition
The introduction of the regional jet altered the sales picture. Although more expensive than turboprops, airlines can 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.
The market for new aircraft to replace existing turboprops once again grew in the mid-1990s, and de Havilland responded with the improved "Series 400" design.
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% less fuel than regional jets. Although the market does not appear to be as robust as in the 1980s when the first Dash 8s were introduced, 2007 saw increased sales of the only two 40+ seat regional turboprops still in western production, Bombardier's Q400 and its competitor, the ATR series of 50-70 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.
The aircraft breaks even with about 1/3rd of its seats filled (or 1/4 with more closely spaced seats), making it particularly attractive on routes with varying passenger numbers where many seats will 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). Most short-haul routes are less than 350 miles (500 km), so the time spent on taxiing, takeoff and landing virtually eliminates a competing jet's speed advantage. As the Q400's 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.
Bombardier has singled out the Q400 for more aggressive marketing, launching a website centered around the aircraft. The aircraft is also being considered for a further stretched version (currently designated Q400X) to compete in the 90-seat market range.
Landing gear issues
On September 12, 2007, Bombardier recommended all Q400s with over 10,000 landings to be grounded for inspection of their landing gear after two non-fatal accidents within three days involving the landing gear of a Q400 series aircraft. Both incident aircraft were operated by Scandinavian Airlines, an early operator of the type. This affected about 60 aircraft, out of 140 Q400s in service. 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; see section Notable incidents and accidents. Following an incident at Copenhagen Airport, 27 October 2007, Scandinavian Airlines' executive board decided to permanently remove its entire Q-400 fleet from service. In a press release on 28 October, 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." On 10 March 2008, SAS ordered 27 more aircraft from Bombardier in a compensation deal.
DHC-8-100 series - Original 37–39 passenger version that entered service in 1984. The original engine was the PW120A (CAA validated on 13 December 1985); later units used the PW121 (CAA validated on 22 February 1990). Rated engine power is 1,800 shp (1,340 kW).
DHC-8-101 - 1984 variant powered by either two PW120 or PW120A engines and a 33,000 lb (15,000 kg) takeoff weight.
DHC-8-102 - 1986 variant powered by either two PW120A or PW121 engines and a 34,500 lb (15,650 kg) takeoff weight.
DHC-8-103 - 1987 variant powered by two PW121 engines and a 34,500 lb (15,650 kg) takeoff weight (can be modified for a 35,200 lb [15,950 kg] take-off weight)
DHC-8-106 - 1992 variant powered by two PW121 engines and a 36,300 lb (16,450 kg) takeoff weight.
DHC-8M-100 - Two aircraft for Transport Canada.
CC-142 - Military transport version for the Canadian Forces in Europe.
CT-142 - Military navigation training version for the Canadian Forces.
E-9A - A USAF range control aircraft that operates out of Tyndall AFB, Florida to ensure that the military ranges in the Gulf of Mexico are clear of civilian boats and aircraft during live fire tests and other hazardous military activities. Two airframes are assigned to the base for the support of training missions.
DHC-8-200 Series - Series 100 airframe with more powerful Pratt & Whitney Canada PW123 engines (rated at 2,150 shp or 1,600 kW) for improved performance also capable of carrying 37 to 39 passengers.
DHC-8-201 - 1995 variant powered by two PW123C engines.
DHC-8-202 - 1995 variant powered by two PW123D engines.
Q200 - Version of the DHC-8-200 with the ANVS system.
DHC-8-300 Series - Stretched 3.43 m (11 ft) over the Series 100/200, a 50–56 passenger version that entered service in 1989. Its engines are PW123 or PW123B or PW123E, rated at 2,500 shp or 1,860 kW.
DHC-8-301 - 1989 variant powered by two PW123 engines
DHC-8-311 - 1990 variant powered by two PW123 engines
DHC-8-314 - 1992 variant powered by two PW123B engines
DHC-8-315 - 1995 variant powered by two PW123E engines
DHC-8-300A - Version of the DHC-8-300 with increased payload.
Q300 - Version of the DHC-8-300 with the ANVS system.
Q400 - Stretched and improved 70–78 passenger version that entered service in 2000. Its 360 knot (670 km/h) cruise speed is 75 knots (140 km/h) higher than its predecessors. Powered by PW150A engines rated at 5,071 shp (3,781 kW) at maximum power (4,850 shp or 3,620 kW maximum continuous rated). 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 altitude to 27,000 ft (8,200 m). All Q400's include the ANVS system.
Q400 NextGen - Version of the Q400 with updated cabins, lighting, windows, overhead bins, landing gear, as well as reduced fuel and maintenance costs.
Q400-MR - Q400 adapted to the water bombing role for the French Sécurité Civile.
DHC-8-400 - 1999 variant with a maximum of 68 passengers.
DHC-8-401 - 1999 variant with a maximum of 70 passengers.
DHC-8-402 - 1999 variant with a maximum of 78 passengers.
Series 100 operators
A total of 221 Dash 8 Series 100 aircraft were in airline service with 47 operators as of August 2008. Major operators are:
- Air Canada Jazz (36)
- Air Creebec (6)
- Air Inuit (6)
- Air Labrador (3)
- Air Service Gabon (3)
- Airlines PNG (7)
- Canadian North (4) (C-GECN DHC-8-106)
- Eastern Australia Airlines (9)
- Era Aviation (4)
- Fly540 (3)
- Hawkair (3)
- Island Air (6)
- Leeward Islands Air Transport (3)
- Mesa Airlines (6)
- North Cariboo Air (4)
- Olympic Airlines (4)
- Piedmont Airlines (42)
- Provincial Airlines (5)
- Regional 1 (4)
- Ryukyu Air Commuter (4)
- Skytrans (7)
- Widerøe (18)
- Yemenia (3)
Some 25 other airlines operate fewer than three Dash 8 Series 100s.
Series 200 operators
A total of 71 Dash 8 Series 200 aircraft were in commercial service with 15 operators as of August 2008. Major operators are:
- AbuDhabi Aviation (2)
- Air Niugini (3)
- AIRES Colombia (10)
- CommutAir (Continental Connection) (15)
- Eastern Australia Airlines (3)
- Horizon Air (13)
- Island Aviation Services (2)
- Mesa Airlines (12)
- Oriental Air Bridge (2)
- Sunshine Airlines (2)
- SATA Air Açores (3)
- Tassili Airlines Algeria (4 on order)
Some four other airlines operate fewer than two Dash 8 Series 200s.
Series 300 operators
A total of 214 Dash 8 Series 300 aircraft were in airline service, with 13 further orders as of August 2006. Major operators are:
- Abu Dhabi Aviation (4)
- Aero Contractors (5)
- Air Canada Jazz (28)
- Air Creebec (1)
- Air Panama (1)
- Air Niugini (3)
- Air Nelson (21, 2 on order))
- Air Nippon Network (5)
- Air Nostrum (11)
- Air Panama (1)
- Air Philippines (3)
- Air Service Gabon (1)
- Air Southwest (5)
- Air Tanzania (2)
- AIRES Colombia (4)
- Arik Air (3)
- Augsburg Airways (3)
- Australia - Customs (4)
- Austrian Arrows (12)
- Bahamasair (6) (Launch Customer)
- Caribbean Airlines (5)
- Denim Air (12)
- GMG Airlines (2)
- Hawkair (1)
- InterSky (4)
- Island Aviation Services (1)
- Leeward Islands Air Transport (14)
- Petroleum Air Services (5)
- PAL Express (3)
- Piedmont Airlines (11)
- QantasLink (10)
- Widerøe (7)
- Sunstate Airlines (6)
- Uni Air (8)
- Voyageur Airways (6)
Some 11 other airlines operate smaller numbers of Dash 8 Series 300.
Series 400 operators
A total of 142 Q400 aircraft are in airline service, with 213 orders as of March 2009. Major operators include:
- Air Berlin (10 on order)
- Air Nippon Network (14)
- Arik Air (4 on order)
- Augsburg Airways (9)
- Austrian Arrows (10)
- Colgan Air (14)
- Croatia Airlines (2, 4 on order)
- Flybaboo (2)
- Flybe (38, 19 on order)
- Frontier Airlines (as Lynx Aviation) (10, 10 on option)
- Horizon Air (37, 11 on order, 20 on option)
- Island Aviation Services (1)
- Japan Air Commuter (9, 1 on order)
- Jeju Air (5)
- Luxair (3)
- Malév (1, 7 on order, 4 on option)
- Mozambique Airlines (1, 3 on order)
- PAL Express (6)
- Porter Airlines (8, 10 on order)
- SATA Air Açores (10 on order)
- Scandinavian Airlines System (as airBaltic and Widerøe) (14 on order)
- QantasLink (13, 7 on order, 24 on option)
- Sky Work Airlines (1)
- South African Express (2)
- Tassili Airlines (4)
- Widerøe (5, 2 on order)
Some 17 other airlines operate smaller numbers of Dash 8 Series 400.
In February 2007, Pinnacle Airlines Corporation announced an order for 15 Q400s on behalf of its recently acquired subsidiary, Colgan Air. The aircraft will be operated in a "codeshare" agreement with Continental Airlines, under the Continental Connection banner out of their Newark, New Jersey hub.
Coast guard and military operators
Aruba - Coast Guard of the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba
Australia - Australian Coastwatch/Border Protection Division, Australian Customs Service
Canada - Canadian Forces - as CT-142 Dash-8 "Gonzo" navigation trainer, CC-142 Dash 8 transport (now retired)
Iceland - Icelandic Coast Guard - Dash-8 Q-300 maritime surveillance version, operational in 2009.
Japan - Japan Coast Guard
Kenya - Kenya Air Force
Mexico - Mexican Navy
Netherlands Antilles - Coast Guard of the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba
Sweden - The Swedish Coast Guard will operate three Dash-8 300 maritime surveillance versions.
United States - United States Air Force - two as the E-9A "Widget", U.S. Customs and Border Protection
Two used Q400s, acquired from Scandinavian Airlines System, were modified by Cascade Aerospace of Abbotsford, British Columbia for France's Sécurité Civile as fire-fighting water bombers in the fire season and as transport aircraft off season. The Q400 Airtanker can drop 10,000 L (22,000 lb) of water in this role compared to Bombardier's CL-415 dedicated water bomber which can drop 6,140 L. The latter, however, is amphibious and requires less infrastructure.
Neptune Aviation of Missoula, Montana have acquired a Q300 as a prototype for future Q200/Q300 water bombers to replace current P2V aircraft.
November 21, 1990: a Bangkok Airways de Havilland Canada DHC-8-103 crashed on Koh Samui while attempting to land in heavy rain and high winds. All 38 people on board died.
January 6, 1993: Lufthansa Cityline Flight 5634 crashed short of the runway near Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport, France. The crash killed 4 out of 23 passengers and crew.
June 9, 1995: Ansett New Zealand Flight 703 Dash 8-102 from Auckland Airport to Palmerston North crashed on western slopes of the Tararua Ranges and 16 km east of Palmerston North Airport during an instrument approach in inclement weather, four killed.
February 12, 2009: Colgan Air Flight 3407 a Q400, from Newark Liberty International Airport to Buffalo Niagara International Airport stalled and crashed into a house in Clarence Center, New York, while preparing to land at the airport. All 49 people on board, including four crew and one off duty pilot, and one person on the ground were killed. Two other people on the ground received minor injuries. The National Transportation Safety Board determined that pilot error cause factors, including a "startle and confusion" response by the captain, were the primary contributors to the accident.
November 23, 2009: A de Havilland Canada 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..
Major landing gear incidents
In September 2007, two separate incidents of similar landing gear failures occurred within four days of each other on SAS Dash 8-Q400 aircraft. A third incident occurred in October 2007, leading to the withdrawal of the type from the airline's fleet.
September 9, 2007: The crew of Scandinavian Airlines 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 only minor injuries. The accident was filmed by a local news channel (TV2-Nord) and broadcast live on national television. The video footage can be seen on YouTube.
September 12, 2007: Scandinavian Airlines Flight 2748 from Copenhagen to Palanga had a similar problem with the landing gear, forcing the aircraft to land in Vilnius. No passengers or crew were injured. Immediately after this incident SAS grounded all their 33 Dash-8/Q400 airliners and, a few hours later, Bombardier recommended that all Dash-8/Q400s with more than 10,000 flights be grounded until further notice.
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. 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 onboard. No injuries were reported. The incident is being investigated by the civil aviation administration in Scandinavia and all Dash 8-400 aircraft within the SAS Group are grounded. The preliminary Danish investigation determined this latest Q400 incident is 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. On the next day, SAS permanently removed its entire Dash 8 Q400 fleet from service.
On September 12, 2007, Bombardier recommended all Q400s with over 10,000 landings to be grounded for inspection of their landing gear after two non-fatal accidents within three days involving the landing gear of a Q400 series aircraft. Both incident aircraft were operated by Scandinavian Airlines, an early operator of the type. This affected about 60 aircraft, out of 140 Q400s in service. 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; see section Notable incidents and accidents. Following an incident at Copenhagen Airport, October 27, 2007, Scandinavian Airlines' executive board decided to permanently remove its entire Q-400 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." On March 10, 2008, SAS ordered 27 more aircraft from Bombardier in a compensation deal.
In November 2007, it was revealed that Swedish Civil Aviation Authority began an investigation and accused Scandinavian Airlines System of cutting corners for maintenance. The airline reportedly made 2,300 flights in which safety equipment was not up to standard.
|Unit Cost (US$)
|Production & Orders
|Height (to top of horizontal tail)
|Maximum cabin width
|Wing area (reference)
|Basic Operating Data
|Typical Passenger Seating
||37 (Single Class)
||50 (Single Class)
||70 (Single Class)
|Passenger Seating Range
|Maximum Cruise Speed
||310 mph (500 km/h)
||334 mph (537 km/h)
||328 mph (528 km/h)
||414 mph (667 km/h)
|Maximum Operating Altitude
||25,000 ft (7,620 m)
||27,000 ft (8,230 m)
|Range (w/typical pax)
||1,174 miles (1,889 km)
||1,065 miles (1,713 km)
||968 miles (1,558 km)
||1,567 miles (2,522 km)
|Range (w/LR tanks)
||1,264 miles (2,034 km)
|Takeoff run at MTOW
||2,625 (800 m)
||2,625 ft (800 m)
||3,865 ft (1,178 m)
||4,600 ft (1,402 m)
|Maximum takeoff weight
||36,300 lb (16,470 kg)
||43,000 lb (19,500 kg)
||64,500 lb (29,260 kg)
|Maximum landing weight
||34,500 lb (15,650 kg)
||42,000 lb (19,050 kg)
||61,750 lb (28,010 kg)
|Maximum zero fuel weight
||32,400 lb (14,700 kg)
||39,500 lb (17,920 kg)
||57,000 lb (25,850 kg)
|Maximum fuel capacity
|Typical operating weight empty
||10,483 kg (23,111 lb)
||11,791 kg (25,995 lb)
||17,185 kg (37,886 lb)
|Typical volumetric payload
||3,407 kg (7,511 lb)
||5,138 kg (11,327 lb)
||8,670 kg (19,114 lb)