While De Havilland Canada (DHC) announced during the Farnborough Air Show it will be tapping into the global demand for more freighter capacity with the launch of three cargo conversion options for the Dash 8-400, the Canadian company today has landed its first customer for the project which it believes will keep it relevant through the current production pause.
DHC announced today that Ethiopian Airlines has signed a proposal for the purchase of two Dash 8-400 Freighter – Large Cargo Door (F-LCD) conversion kits.
The proposal also provides an option for an additional two F-LCD conversion kits with the two parties working to finalize a definitive and binding agreement.
“Cargo has played a pivotal role in Ethiopian Airlines’ operations over the past couple of years, and will remain a key growth pillar of our business over the coming years,” said Mesfin Tasew, Chief Executive Officer, Ethiopian Airlines Group. “The pandemic and subsequent recovery efforts have given rise to significant opportunities in the cargo space and we see great value in converting our older Dash 8-400 fleet to freighters to capitalize on these growing opportunities,” the newly appointed CEO noted.
The F-LCD cargo option which Ethiopian chose is the biggest modification which will have a 109-in. x 69-in. cargo door installed on the forward right side of the fuselage that will allow the aircraft to handle a maximum load of eight LD3 containers.
The need to certify the new door means the projected time in service is the second half of 2024.
“Ethiopian’s proposal with De Havilland Canada is a superb testament to the versatility of the Dash 8-400 aircraft to satisfy a wide variety of operational requirements and we thank Ethiopian for this confidence in the aircraft’s capability,” said Philippe Poutissou, Vice President, Customer Experience, De Havilland Canada.
“The Dash 8-400 aircraft’s industry-leading operating costs and environmental footprint, as well as its outstanding performance and large cabin volume have facilitated our introduction of a series of freighter options — including Quick Change, Package Freighter and LCD Freighters — to better serve the expanding cargo market.
“We are also excited to announce our partnership with Ethiopian to offer Dash 8 freighter conversions through their experienced MRO – already a De Havilland Canada Authorized Service Facility,” added Mr Poutissou.
“This conversion capability will support Ethiopian’s fleet needs and can be offered to other Dash 8 aircraft operators in Africa and neighbouring regions as an additional choice to the conversions De Havilland Canada can perform in Canada or through our Mobile Repair Team.”
The freighter options launched at the Farnborough Airshow include Quick Change (QC), Package Freighter (PF) and Freighter with Large Cargo Door (F-LCD) configurations to address a variety of operational business models.
Dash 8-400 aircraft have logged over 11 million flight hours and transported more than 570 million passengers. Worldwide, the aircraft is in the fleets of more than 70 owners and operators.
DHC now says the company is looking somewhere between 2025 and 2027 for a decision about whether to resume production of the large turboprop.