Field Aviation has completed the first major modernisation of the flight deck of a Bombardier Dash 8 turboprop, and says it believes many operators will implement the upgrade to extend the useful life of their Dash 8s.

Designed by Field Aviation for the "classic" Dash 8 100/200/300 series aircraft, the modification was developed in close cooperation with Universal Avionics, which was responsible for tailoring and certifying the five flat panel displays and interface software for the Dash 8 aircraft, and with Ametek, which developed the Dash 8's dual channel engine interface unit. The upgrade removed over 30 old instruments and indicators from the instrument panel and was completed at Field's facilities at Toronto Pearson International airport.

"The result is less weight and a significant reduction in equipment failures, improved dispatch reliability and reduced maintenance costs," said Field.

A Transport Canada supplemental type certificate for the cockpit upgrade was issued on 12 April, and the process to obtain equivalent FAA and EASA certification is underway. The aircraft was handed back to the owner - the Icelandic Coast Guard - on schedule, said Field.

Company vice-president of business development David Jensen says: "Our first customer has fully endorsed the benefits of converting to the Universal EFI-890R flight deck display. First and foremost there is the improvement in situational awareness for the flight crew, but also a much easier flight crew transition from, and into other aircraft types which tend to have more modern flight decks than the 'classic' Dash 8s." He adds: "The first 'classic' Dash 8s entered commercial service in the mid-1980s, but the flight deck technology has remained static until now. The aircraft remains very popular and the fleet is good for many more years in service. We believe that many operators will implement this flight deck upgrade as part of extending the useful life of the Dash 8 aircraft, whether their primary reason is safety, reliability or maintainability or a combination of all."

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news