De Havilland To Pause Dash 8 Line, Seeks New Production Site

 - February 17, 2021, 2:47 PM
De Havilland Aircraft of Canada has built and supported Dash 8-400 turboprops since it bought the program from Bombardier in 2018. (Photo: De Havilland Canada)

De Havilland Aircraft of Canada confirmed Wednesday that it will “pause” production of the Dash 8-400 turboprop at its site in Downsview, Ontario, once it completes assembly of the remaining airplanes in its backlog by the middle of this year. The company added that it continues its search for a new production site once the lease on its current facility expires this year. The decision to pause production will affect 500 jobs, the company estimated.

“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,” the company said in a statement.

Bombardier—the former producer of the Dash 8-400—sold the Downsview site in 2018 to a pension fund that established a firm to manage commercial and residential real-estate development on the property. “Accordingly, De Havilland Canada has begun preparing to leave the site over the latter part of the year,” said the company. “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.”

David Curtis, executive chairman of Longview Aviation Capital, De Havilland Canada’s parent company, added that his firm remains committed to the program and that the decision bears no reflection on the employees affected. De Havilland Canada delivered 11 Dash 8s in 2020.

"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,” said Curtis. “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.” 

Measures by the company to “ensure the Dash 8 remains at the forefront of the regional aircraft market” include what it calls a significant investment in customer services and support team, distribution network, and information technology; development of upgrades and modifications including a freighter; and introduction of cabin refurbishment features such as an overhead bin extension.

Meanwhile, De Havilland Canada continues to provide full-time customer support and carries an inventory of more than 35,000 part numbers needed to serve the operating fleet from warehouses around the globe.