Bombardier flew the second de Havilland Dash 8-400 regional turboprop on 26 May from its plant in Downsview, Ontario. The aircraft is expected to join the first -400 at Bombardier's flight test centre in Wichita, Kansas, within a few weeks, according to the company.

Despite having booked only 32 firm orders so far, the Canadian manufacturer remains confident of its forecast demand for 1,500 aircraft over the next 20 years in the 70-seat short haul turboprop market. "Our numbers remain the same," says Steve Ridolfi, vice-president of aircraft and marketing programmes at Bombardier's regional aircraft division.

Initial Dash 8-400 orders are from European and Far Eastern customers, but Ridolfi indicates that the first North American customer could be announced soon. He agrees with claims by ATR that there could be an upturn in the US regional turboprop market within the next two years as older aircraft come up for replacement.

"Dash 8 sales are very solid, and they are primarily for replacement aircraft in the very short haul market, under 200nm [370km]," he says. Bombardier confirms that commonality with the existing 37/50-seat Dash 8 family is the key.

The first aircraft has demonstrated the specified 350kt (648km/h) maximum cruise speed at 17,000ft (5,200m) at a propeller speed of 850RPM.

Certification is scheduled for the first quarter of 1999. The 1,300h flight test programme will involve five -400s. The second aircraft will be used for powerplant, fuel and systems testing, while the third will undergo testing of the Sextant Avionique avionics.

The number four aircraft will be equipped with a 78-seat interior with noise and vibration suppression system and the fifth will be used for final function and reliability testing.

Source: Flight International