Jazz considering life-extension programme for ageing Dash 8s

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Jazz parent Chorus Aviation is considering options to refurbish and extend the lives of its Bombardier Dash 8-100 and -300 turboprops.

"We're presently in discussions with Bombardier with respect to the life extension program on that airplane and the cost that would be involved with that," says Jazz Aviation president and chief executive Joseph Randell on a 10 May conference call. "That of course will have to be measured against other fleet alternatives, which we will have to work with Air Canada on."

About 40 of Jazz Aviation's 64 Dash 8-100 and -300 turboprops are scheduled to reach the end of their useful lives by 2020, says Randell. The carrier operates 20 of the 37-seat Dash 8-100s and 28 50-seat Dash 8-300s. The fleets' average ages are 25 and 22.6 years, respectively.

Chorus is expecting its fleet investments to total more than Canadian dollar (C$) $100 million ($98.9 million) over the next five years, says Randell. This could go towards the refurbishment and life extension of older aircraft, or new aircraft purchases. Chorus has not decided on which options it will pursue.

Bombardier launched a life-extension programme for the Dash 8-100 in 2009 with Norwegian carrier Wideroe. It extends the economic life of the aircraft to 120,000 flight cycles from its original limit of 80,000 cycles.

To fly past 80,000 cycles, the aircraft must undergo a detailed inspection. The maintenance requirements for the aircraft remain the same after the life is extended, says Bombardier.

Bombardier could offer the extension programme to the other Dash 8 variants if customers were interested, it says.

"We work with operators on a case-by-case basis," says the airframer.

Bombardier says that it has also been gauging interest for interior upgrades on older Dash 8 turboprop models. The modification would more closely match the aircraft cabins to that of the Bombardier Dash 8 Q400.

Jazz Aviation is in the process of receiving new Q400 aircraft and has received 21 so far. In 2010, the airline signed a deal for 15 firm orders and 15 options. In July 2012 the carrier pursued six of those options. The carrier has amended its flying agreement with Air Canada to include the Q400s and has removed nine 50-seat CRJ100 aircraft.