BOMBARDIER HAS launched the stretched de Havilland Canada Dash 8-400 regional turboprop, following an order for 12 aircraft from Great China Airlines of Taiwan. A formal announcement is expected at the show.

The Taiwanese domestic carrier is understood to be one of several launch customers for the 70-seat aircraft, including at least one other Asian airline. The Great China deal alone is thought to be worth $316 million.

Bombardier has been seeking around 40 orders to launch the Dash 8-400. The company's board of directors gave the go-ahead in April for the aircraft to be officially marketed. It had previously delayed launching the stretch variant because of poor market demand.

The -400 is a stretched and more powerful development of the earlier Dash 8-100/200/300 series. It will feature a 4.6m-longer fuselage, new forward baggage door, aft cargo door and a strengthened wing/fuselage joint. It will be powered by twin 3,670kW (5,000hp) Pratt & Whitney Canada PW150 turboprop engines, and have a cruising speed of 350kt (650km/h).

The first Dash 8-400 is scheduled to have its maiden flight in the first quarter of 1997, with the aim of achieving airworthiness certification in the final quarter of 1998. The first delivery is expected shortly afterwards.

Great China expects to receive its first Dash 8-400 in 1999. The 12 aircraft will replace seven Dash 8-300s and four smaller Dash 8-100 turboprops. The aircraft will be employed on Great China's 58 domestic routes in Taiwan.

Source: Flight International