Bombardier Dash 8

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Dash 8
Flybe dash8 g-jecl takeoff manchester arp.jpg
Flybe Q400
Role Turboprop airliner
Manufacturer de Havilland Canada
Bombardier Aerospace
First flight June 20, 1983
Introduction 1984 with NorOntair
Status In production, in service
Primary users Jazz
Horizon Air
Produced 1983–present
Number built 1,212 (as of December 31, 2016)[1]
Unit cost
Q400 US$31.3 million[2]
Developed from de Havilland Canada Dash 7

The Bombardier Dash 8 or Q-Series, previously known as the de Havilland Canada Dash 8 or DHC-8, is a series of twin-engine, medium-range, turboprop airliners. Introduced by de Havilland Canada (DHC) in 1984, they are now produced by Bombardier Aerospace. Over 1,000 Dash 8s of all models have been built.[3]

The Dash 8 was developed from the de Havilland Canada Dash 7, which featured extreme short take-off and landing (STOL) performance. With the Dash 8, DHC focused on improving cruise performance and lowering operational costs. The engine chosen was the Pratt & Whitney Canada PW100. The aircraft has been delivered in four series. The Series 100 has a maximum capacity of 39, the Series 200 has the same capacity but offers more powerful engines, the Series 300 is a stretched, 50-seat version, and the Series 400 is further stretched to 78 passengers. Models delivered after 1997 have cabin noise suppression and are designated with the prefix "Q".[4] Production of the Series 100 ceased in 2005, and the Q200 and Q300 in 2009.

Design and development[edit]

Early −300 cockpit
Modern Q400 cockpit

In the 1970s, de Havilland Canada had invested heavily in its Dash 7 project, concentrating on STOL and short-field performance, the company's traditional area of expertise. Using four medium-power engines with large four-bladed propellers resulted in comparatively lower 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. Its favoured engine supplier, Pratt & Whitney Canada, developed the new PW100 series engines for the role, more than doubling the power from its PT6. Originally designated the PT7A-2R engine, it later became the PW120. When the Dash 8 rolled out on April 19, 1983, more than 3,800 hours of testing had been accumulated over two years on five PW100 series test engines. Certification of the PW120 followed in late 1983.[5]

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 June 20, 1983, and the airliner entered service in 1984 with NorOntair. In 1984, Piedmont Airlines, formerly Henson Airlines, was the first US customer for the Dash 8.

The Dash 8 design has better cruise performance than the Dash 7, is less expensive to operate, and is much less expensive to maintain, due largely to having only two engines. The Dash 8 has the lowest cost per passenger mile of any regional airliner of its era. It is a little noisier than the Dash 7 and cannot match the STOL performance of its earlier DHC forebears, although it is still able to operate from small airports with 3,000 ft (910 m) runways, compared to the 2,200 ft (670 m) required by a fully laden Dash 7.

In April 2008, Bombardier announced that production of the classic versions (Series 100, 200, 300) would be ended, leaving the Series 400 as the only Dash 8 still in production. A total of 671 Dash 8 classics were produced; the last one was delivered to Air Nelson in May 2008.[6]

At the February 2016, Singapore Airshow, Bombardier announced a high density 90-seat layout of the Q400 which should enter service in 2018: keeping the 28 in (71 cm) seat pitch of the Nok Air 86-seats, an extra row of seats is allowed by changing the configuration of the front right-hand door and moving back the aft pressure bulkhead. The payload is increased by 2,000 pounds (910 kg) and the aircraft maintenance check intervals are increased: 800 hours from 600 for an A-check and 8,000 hours from 6,000 for a C-check.[7]

Q400 stretch[edit]

The interior of a SAS Commuter Q402 cabin in 2004

Bombardier proposed development of a Q400 stretch with two plug-in segments, called the Q400X project, in 2007.[8] In response to this project, as of November 2007, ATR was studying a 90-seat stretch.[9]

In June 2009, Bombardier commercial aircraft president Gary Scott indicated that the Q400X will be "definitely part of our future" for possible introduction in 2013–14, although he has not detailed the size of the proposed version or committed to an introduction date.[10]

As of July 2010, Bombardier's vice president, Phillipe Poutissou, made comments explaining the company was still studying the prospects of designing the Q400X and talking with potential customers. At the time, Bombardier was not as committed to the Q400X as it had been previously.[11] As of May 2011, Bombardier was still strongly committed to the stretch, but envisioned it as more likely as a 2015 or later launch, complicating launch date matters were new powerplants to come online in 2016 from GE and PWC.[12] As of February 2012, Bombardier was still studying the issue, but as of 2011, the launch date is no longer targeted for the 2014 range. At least a three-year delay was envisioned.[13]

In October 2012, a joint development deal with a government-led South Korean consortium was revealed, to develop a 90-seater turboprop regional airliner, targeting a 2019 launch date. The consortium would include Korea Aerospace Industries and Korean Air Lines.[14]

Operational history[edit]

A Croatia Airlines Bombardier Dash 8 Q400 taking off
A Flybe Q400 taking off, showing planform

The Dash 8 was introduced at a particularly advantageous time; most airlines were in the process of adding new aircraft to their fleets 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 itself to compete for a new Air Canada order for large intercontinental airliners.[citation needed] 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, which received an order for 34 A320 aircraft in a highly controversial move. The allegations of bribery are today known as the Airbus affair. Following its failure in the competition,[citation needed] Boeing immediately put de Havilland Canada up for sale. The company was eventually purchased by Bombardier in 1992.

All Dash 8s delivered from the second quarter of 1996 (including all Series 400s) include the Active Noise and Vibration 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).[4]

The Dash 8–100 is no longer in production, with the last Dash 8–102 built in 2005. Production of the Q200 and Q300 ceased in May 2009.[15]

Regional jet competition[edit]

A Tyrolean Airways Series 300 taxiing at the airline's home base Innsbruck Airport

The introduction of the regional jet altered the sales picture. Although more expensive than turboprops, regional jets allow airlines to 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.[16]

The market for new aircraft to replace existing turboprops once again grew in the mid-1990s, and DHC 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 30–60% less fuel than regional jets. Although the market was not as robust as in the 1980s when the first Dash 8s were introduced, 2007 had 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.[17]

According to Bombardier marketing, the aircraft breaks even with about a third of its seats filled (or a fourth with more closely spaced seats), making it particularly attractive on routes with varying passenger numbers where many seats would 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, taking off, and landing virtually eliminates a competing jet's speed advantage. As the Q400's 360-knot (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.[18]

Bombardier has singled out the Q400 for more aggressive marketing, launching a website centered around the aircraft.[19] The aircraft is also being considered for a further stretched version (currently designated Q400X) to compete in the 90-seat market range.[20] In 2016, Bombardier began offering the Q400 in a 90-seat high-density variant, without a fuselage stretch or major redesign.[21]


Series 100[edit]

The 100 and 200 series have the shortest fuselage length in the Dash 8 family; this is the eighth Dash 8 built, a series 100, operated by Skytrans Airlines.
DHC-8-100 series
Original 37–39 passenger version that entered service in 1984. The original engine was the PW120A (CAA validated on December 13, 1985); later units used the PW121 (CAA validated on February 22, 1990). Rated engine power is 1,800 shp (1,340 kW).
1984 variant powered by either two PW120 or PW120A engines and a 33,000 lb (15,000 kg) takeoff weight.
1986 variant powered by either two PW120A or PW121 engines and a 34,500 lb (15,650 kg) takeoff weight.
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)
1990 variant powered by two PW120A engines with revised Heath Tecna interior.
1992 variant powered by two PW121 engines and a 36,300 lb (16,450 kg) takeoff weight.
Two aircraft for Maritime Pollution Surveillance, operated by Transport Canada, equipped with the MSS 6000 Surveillance system.[22]
Military transport version for the Canadian Forces in Europe.
Military navigation training version for the Canadian Forces. Used to train Canadian and allied nation's ACSOs and AESOPs [23]
E-9A Widget
E-9A Widget
A United States Air Force range control aircraft equipped with AN/APS-143(V)-1 radar that operates out of Tyndall AFB, Florida to ensure that the overwater military ranges in the Gulf of Mexico are clear of civilian boats and aircraft during live fire tests of air-launched missiles and other hazardous military activities. Two aircraft are assigned to the 82d Aerial Targets Squadron for the support of training missions.[24] An E-9 can detect a person in a life raft in the water up to 25 miles away.[25]

Series 200[edit]

DHC-8-201 operated by QantasLink at Sydney Airport
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.
1995 variant powered by two PW123C engines.
1995 variant powered by two PW123D engines.
Version of the DHC-8-200 with the ANVS system.

Series 300[edit]

A DHC-8-301 of Air Canada Jazz landing at Vancouver International Airport in 2011. The −300 series has a fuselage 3.43 metres (11.3 ft) longer than the −100 and −200, and 6.83 metres (22.4 ft) shorter than the −400
DHC-8-300 Series
Stretched 3.43 metres (11.3 ft) over the Series 100/200, a 50–56 passenger version that entered service in 1989. The Q300 is powered by the Pratt & Whitney PW123 or PW123B or PW123E, rated at 2,380–2,500 shp or 1,774–1,864 kW.
1989 variant powered by two PW123 engines
1990 variant powered by two PW123A engines with revised Heath Tecna interior. In addition, the landing gear design changed to a slightly swept back design intended to prevent tail strikes.[citation needed]
1992 variant powered by two PW123B engines
1995 variant powered by two PW123E engines
Version of the DHC-8-300 with increased payload.
Version of the DHC-8-300 with the ANVS system.
DHC-8-300 MSA
Upgraded variant with L-3 for maritime surveillance platform.
United States military designation for the DHC-8-315 for the United States Army as a reconnaissance platform.

Series 400[edit]

Scandinavian Airlines Q402 in flight
France Sécurité Civile Q400-MR
1999 variant with a maximum of 68 passengers.
1999 variant with a maximum of 70 passengers.
1999 variant with a maximum of 78 passengers.
Stretched and improved 70–78 passenger version that entered service in 2000. Its 360 knot (667 km/h) cruise speed is 60–90 knots (111–166 km/h) higher than its competitors/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). The 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 operating altitude to 27,000 ft (8,200 m). All Q400s include the ANVS system.
Version of the Q400 with updated cabins, lighting, windows, overhead bins, landing gear, as well as reduced fuel and maintenance costs. Extra Capacity variant with a maximum of 86 passengers.[26] In 2016, Bombardier began offering the Q400 NextGen in a 90 passenger high density variant.[27]
2 Q400 adapted to the water bombing role by Cascade Aerospace for the French Sécurité Civile.[28] The tanker mode can carry 2,600 U.S. gallons of retardant, foam or water and travel at 340 knots.
2007 converted for use as a maritime patrol aircraft.
2008 converted pallet freighter variant with a payload of 9000 kg.
Cargo combi. Seats 50 passengers plus 8200 lb of payload. First delivery in 2015


Orders and deliveries[edit]

As of December 31, 2016, total orders and deliveries of the Dash 8 family stand at:[1]

Model Series Orders Deliveries Unfilled
Series 100 299 299
Series 200 105 105
Series 300 267 267
Series 400 572 541 31
Total 1243 1212 31

Q400 latest orders[edit]

Date Customer Orders Options Note
30 July 2014 Ryukyu Air Commuter 5 0 Launch customer for cargo-combi variant.[29]
10 November 2014 Falcon Aviation Services 3[30] 0
31 December 2014 GECAS 5[31] 10
22 January 2015 Horizon Air 2 −2 Converted 2 options to firm order.[32]
2 February 2015 Jazz Air 13 10 Launch New Extended Service Program for Dash 8–300.[33]
12 February 2015 Luxair 3[34] 2
17 March 2015 Lessor Palma Holding Limited 1 −1 Leased to RwandAir.[35]
13 April 2015 Air Côte d'Ivoire 2[36] −2
15 June 2015 WestJet Encore 6 −6 Converted options[37]
29 December 2015 Ethiopian Airlines 2[38] 0
1 June 2016 WestJet Encore 9 -9 Converted options.[39]
12 July 2016 Porter Airlines 3[40] 0
15 July 2016 ANA Wings 3[41] 0
25 July 2016 Government of Tanzania 2[42] 0 Leased to Air Tanzania[43]
5 August 2016 Ilyushin Finance Co. 1 5 As part of a revised CS300 restructured order.[44]
2 December 2016 Government of Tanzania 1 0 Leased to Air Tanzania[43]
8 December 2016 Philippine Airlines
(PAL Express)
5[45] 7

Accidents and incidents[edit]

Notable accidents[edit]

  • April 15, 1988: Horizon Air Flight 2658, operated by DHC-8-102 N819PH suffered an engine fire on climb-out from Seattle/Tacoma International Airport. An emergency landing was made but the aircraft struck equipment on the ground before crashing into two jetways. N819PH was destroyed by fire; there were no fatalities.[46]
  • November 21, 1990: a Bangkok Airways DHC-8-103 crashed on Koh Samui while attempting to land in heavy rain and high winds. All 38 people on board died.[47]
  • January 6, 1993: Lufthansa Cityline Flight 5634 crashed short of the runway near Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport, France. Four of the 23 passengers and crew died.[48]
  • June 9, 1995: Ansett New Zealand Flight 703, a Dash 8–102 flying from Auckland Airport to Palmerston North crashed on the western slopes of the Tararua Ranges and 16 km east of Palmerston North Airport during an instrument approach in inclement weather; four occupants died.
  • 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), in addition to one person on the ground, died. Two other people on the ground received minor injuries. The National Transportation Safety Board determined that the aircraft had no known mechanical or computer malfunctions (including the auto-pilot), and pilot error, including a "startle and confusion" response by the captain, was the primary contributor to the accident.[49][50][51][52]
  • November 23, 2009: a 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. The incident was caused by the aircraft running out of fuel 29 seconds prior to the forced landing. The captain had opted not to refuel at the previous departure airport.[53]
  • October 13, 2011: an Airlines PNG Dash 8–102, registration P2-MCJ, crashed about 20 km (12 mi) south of Madang in Papua New Guinea while en route from Lae with 32 people on board. The aircraft subsequently ignited, resulting in 28 deaths. Both pilots, as well as a flight attendant and a passenger, survived. Following the accident, Airlines PNG grounded its fleet of 12 Dash 8 aircraft. The crash was determined to be caused by pilot error.[54][55]
  • April 9, 2012: Air Tanzania Dash 8 5H-MWG was written off at Kigoma Airport, Tanzania in an aborted take off. All 39 people on board survived.[56]
  • On 30 September 2015, Luxair Flight 9562, operating a Bombardier Q400 LX-LGH, experienced a takeoff accident at Saarbrücken Airport. Upon lifting off the runway, the first officer retracted the undercarriage. The aircraft sank back on the runway with its gear retracted and came to rest about 360 m (1180 ft) before the end of the paved surface of the runway. The aircraft was severely damaged.[57][58]

Major landing gear incidents[edit]

A Dash 8 after landing at Kōchi Ryōma Airport on March 13, 2007, when the front landing gear failed to extend

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.

On September 9, 2007 the crew of Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) 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 minor injuries.[59][60][61] The accident was filmed by a local news channel (TV2-Nord) and broadcast live on national television.

SAS Dash 8 (LN-RDS) after crash-landing at Vilnius airport

Three days later on September 12, Scandinavian Airlines Flight 2748 from Copenhagen to Palanga had a similar problem with the landing gear, forcing the aircraft to land in Vilnius international airport (Lithuania). No passengers or crew were injured.[62] Immediately after this incident SAS grounded all 33 Q400 airliners in its fleet and, a few hours later, Bombardier recommended that all Q400s with more than 10,000 flights be grounded until further notice.[63] This affected about 60 aircraft, out of 140 Q400s then in service.

On 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. The 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 on board. No injuries were reported.[64][65] The next day, SAS permanently removed its entire Dash 8 Q400 fleet from service.[66] 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."[64][66][67] The preliminary Danish investigation determined the latest Q400 incident was 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.[68]

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. In November 2007, it was revealed that the Swedish Civil Aviation Administration had begun an investigation and found Scandinavian Airlines System culpable of cutting corners in its maintenance department. The airline reportedly made 2,300 flights in which safety equipment was not up to standard.[69] On March 10, 2008, SAS ordered 27 more aircraft from Bombardier in a compensation deal: 14 Q400 NextGen turboprops and 13 CRJ900 jets.[70]


Model Q200[71] Q300[72] Q400[73]
Cockpit Crew 2
Cabin Crew 1 1/2 2/3
Passengers 37 50 74
Exit Limit[74] 40 56 80
Length 73 ft / 22.25 m 84 ft 3 in / 25.70 m 107 ft 9 in / 32.8 m
Height 24 ft 7 in / 7.49 m 27 ft 5 in / 8.4 m
Wingspan 90 ft / 27.40 m 93 ft 3 in / 28.4 m
Wing area 585 ft² / 54.40 m² 605 ft² / 56.20 m² 689 ft² / 64 m²
Aspect ratio 13.8 13.36 12.6
Width Fuselage 8 ft 10 in / 2.69 m, cabin 8 ft 3 in / 2.52 m
Cabin length 30 ft 1 in / 9.16 m 41 ft 6 in / 12.60 m 61 ft 8 in / 18.80 m
Max takeoff 36,300 lb / 16,466 kg 43,000 lb / 19,505 kg 65,200 lb / 29,574 kg
Max landing 34,500 lb / 15,649 kg 42,000 lb / 19,050 kg 62,000 lb / 28,123 kg
Max zero fuel 32,400 lb / 14,696 kg 39,500 lb / 17,920 kg 58,000 lb / 26,308 kg
Operating empty 23,098 lb / 10,477 kg 26,000 lb / 11,793 kg 41284 lb / 17819 kg
Max payload 8,921 lb / 4,647 kg 13,500 lb / 6,124 kg 18,716 lb / 8,489 kg
Max fuel 835 U.S. gal / 3,160 L 1,724 U.S. gal / 6,526 L[75]
Engines 2× 2,150 shp PW123C/D 2× 2,380-2,500 shp PW123/B/E 2× 4,580-5,071 shp PW150
High speed cruise 289 kts / 333 mph / 535 km/h 287 kts / 330 mph / 532 km/h 349 kts / 402 mph / 646 km/h
Ceiling 25,000 ft / 7,620 m
Range 1,125 NM / 1,295 SM / 2,084 km 924 NM / 1,063 SM / 1,711 km 1,114 NM / 1,282 SM / 2,063 km
Takeoff (MTOW, SL, ISA) 3,280 ft / 1,000 m 3,870 ft / 1,180 m 4,675 ft / 1,425 m
Landing (MLW, SL) 2,560 ft / 780 m 3,415 ft / 1,040 m 4,230 ft / 1,289 m

See also[edit]

Related development
Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era
Related lists



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  • Eden, Paul E. Civil Aircraft Today: The World's Most Successful Commercial Aircraft. London: Amber Books, 2008. ISBN 978-1-90570-486-6.
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External links[edit]