With AIN Media Group's Aviation International News and its predecessor Aviation Convention News celebrating the company's 50th year of continuous publication this year, AIN’s editorial staff is going back through the archives each month to bring readers some interesting events that were covered over the past half-century.
REWIND: (May 1, 1983) A new airplane happens only once every eight or ten years at de Havilland Aircraft Co. of Canada, so it was no surprise when, on April 19, top Canadian politicians, business leaders, and military brass joined 1,500 commuter airline executives and their families for the formal rollout of de Havilland’s new mid-size aircraft, the Dash 8 36 passenger twin-turboprop commuter.
The Dash 8 actually starred in two rollout ceremonies. Three days before the debut in front of commuter operators, de Havilland staged a rollout for Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, also attended by an estimated 6,000 company employees and families. The special showing was hastily arranged because the Canadian Parliament was scheduled to present the country’s budget the night of April 19th and Trudeau was immersed in those preparations.
Trudeau reportedly was anxious to appear at the Dash 8 rollout and attract attention to de Havilland’s achievement in hopes of calming a furor over the country’s aerospace industry, particularly Canadair. The Challenger manufacturer has come under heavy media and parliamentary criticism recently – spurred in part by an April 13 television news probe of the company because of what critics say are sweetheart deals Canadair made with early Challenger customers – deals that have contributed to Canadair’s billion-dollar and climbing debt.
FASTFORWARD: The Dash 8, with its introductory list price of $4.5 million made its first flight later that year and entered service in 1984. It was also marketed to the private aviation industry by Innotech Aviation. Despite the manufacturer changing ownership over the years from Boeing to Bombardier to Longview Aviation Capital (returning to the name of de Havilland Aircraft Canada), the aircraft has remained in production ever since, incorporating improvements up to the -400 series which carries twice the passenger load as the original. Among its various models, there have been more than 1,300 Dash 8s built.