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Bombardier poised to make Dash 8-400 engine choice imminent

BOMBARDIER WILL select an engine for the de Havilland Dash 8-400 "by the end of April", says Regional Aircraft division president Pierre Lortie. Board-level approval to offer the 70-seat high-speed regional turboprop to airlines is expected at the same time, he says.

Lortie was speaking at the 19 April hand-over of the 400th Dash 8, a -300 for Austria's Tyrolean Airways. British Petroleum Exploration Colombia also received its first Dash 8-200.

Three 3,400kW (4,600shp)-class engines are being considered for the 350kt (650km/h)-cruise Dash 8-400: the AlliedSignal AS800, Allison AE2100 and Pratt & Whitney Canada PW130.

"All are technically very attractive and very competitive. In the end, it will be a commercial decision," says Bombardier Regional Aircraft division vice-president Tom Appleton.

Maximum possible commonality between the Dash 8-100/200/300 and the -400 "...is an absolute requirement", he says, with the company aiming for a common type-rating across the family, with pilots receiving "differences-training" on the 40% larger -400. The 37-seat -200 and 50-seat -300, are both powered by the P&WC PW123.

P&WC President David Kaplan says that the proposed PW130 is a "substantial growth" of the PW100-series, with increased airflow resulting from core changes and additional stages. Components have been tested, he says, and the PW130 would be available to meet Bombardier's planned 1999 service-entry date for the -400.

Appleton says, that he "would not contradict" reports that Bombardier hopes to launch the Dash 8-400 at the Paris air show in June. Lortie says that initial discussions have been held with potential risk-sharing partners and that requests for proposals, inviting bids for work on the aircraft from both Bombardier companies and outside suppliers, will be issued soon.

Production of the existing Dash 8 series is now being increased to three a month and Bombardier is forecasting that it will go on to sell another 400 of the series, including the -400, over the next decade.

The -200 and -300 are now the basic production models, with the -100 still available to existing operators. The "hot-and-high" -300E will be certificated in June, powered by an up-rated PW123E.

Bombardier says that the aircraft is a cheaper alternative to the hot-and-high ATR 42 and Fokker 50 variants, which are powered by the more powerful, but more expensive, PW127B.

First deliveries of the Dash 8-400 are planned for late 1998, slightly ahead of the competing ATR 82, Lortie says. First deliveries of the Bombardier Canadair CRJ-X 70-seat Regional Jet are planned for 1999, he says. Appleton says that market research indicates roughly equal demand for both the Dash 8-400, for shorter routes, and CRJ-X, for longer routes.

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