De Havilland Aircraft of Canada has launched a review of its DHC-6 Twin Otter programme and intends later this year to do the same for its Dash 8-400 passenger turboprop.

Through the review, the Canadian airframer will evaluate its supply chains and potential updates to both types.


Source: De Havilland

It will also decide when to restart Twin Otter production, and whether to reboot Dash 8-400 production, says De Havilland vice-president of sales and marketing Philippe Poutissou. He spoke on 18 July during the Farnborough air show.

De Havilland says Dash 8 production could restart around mid-decade, if conditions allow. Production would likely happen in Calgary, where De Havilland produces Twin Otters, Poutissou adds.

De Havilland had produced Dash 8-400s at a facility in the Downsview section of Toronto. It stopped producing Dash 8s and Twin Otters amid the pandemic, and exited the Downsview site this year. The move had been expected because De Havilland’s lease at Downsview was set to expire.

The Twin Otter review is already underway.

“As we move towards resuming production, an extensive business case and global supply chain review has been undertaken on the DHC-6 Twin Otter, with results expected in the near future, including a decision on when to re-start production,” De Havilland tells FlightGlobal.

Poutissou adds that De Havilland intends to produce Twin Otters “well into the future”.

The Dash 8-400 review will start around the end of this year, Poutissou says.

The fate of the Dash 8 has been more uncertain, partly because De Havilland needs a new facility for production, and also due to questions about demand.

“There remain a significant number of aircraft that have not returned to service, and our first priority is getting them back into service,” says De Havilland. “We need to make sure that the customer demand is in place and that the global supply chain is in place to support a restart of production.

“It is possible that production could start by the middle of the decade, but only under conditions where the customer demand is there and the supply chain issues are resolved such that we could meet customer deadlines,” De Havilland adds.

Poutissou declines to specify what updates are under consideration for either type, saying De Havilland is working to understand customers’ requirements.

De Havilland DHC-6 Twin Otter 400

Source: De Havilland

A De Havilland Aircraft DHC-6 Twin Otter 400

The reviews come as De Havilland and others are exploring equipping Twin Otters and Dash 8s with electric- and hydrogen-based powerplants.

Late last year, De Havilland said it partnered with hydrogen-propulsion company ZeroAvia to develop a 2MW hydrogen-electric propulsion system for Dash 8-400s, with service entry as soon as 2026. Additionally, US carrier Alaska Airlines has said it plans to equip a Dash 8-400 with ZeroAvia’s system, and Universal Hydrogen is working on a Dash 8 hydrogen conversion project.

Separately, ZeroAvia has suggested its technology is suitable for Twin Otters, and in 2019 electric aircraft developer Ampaire and Ikhana Aircraft Services said they were jointly studying the feasibility of equipping Twin Otters with hybrid-electric propulsion.

De Havilland’s parent Longview Aviation Capital acquired the Dash 8 programme from Bombardier in 2019.