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The Bombardier Dash 8 or Q-Series, previously known as the de Havilland Canada Dash 8 or DHC-8, is a series of twin-engined, medium range, turboprop airliners. Introduced by de Havilland Canada (DHC) in 1984, they are now produced by Bombardier Aerospace. Over 1,000 Dash 8s of all models have been built, with Bombardier forecasting a total production run of 1,192 aircraft of all variants through 2016.

The Dash 8 was developed from the de Havilland Canada Dash 7, which featured extreme short take-off and landing (STOL) performance. With the Dash 8, DHC focused on improving cruise performance and lowering operational costs. The engine chosen was the Pratt & Whitney Canada PW100. The aircraft has been delivered in four series. The Series 100 has a maximum capacity of 39, the Series 200 has the same capacity but offers more powerful engines, the Series 300 is a stretched, 50-seat version, and the Series 400 is further stretched to 78 passengers. Models delivered after 1997 have cabin noise suppression and are designated with the prefix "Q". Production of the Series 100 ceased in 2005, and the Q200 and Q300 in 2009. Bombardier is considering launching a stretched version of the Q400.


Dash 8 / Q-Series
A Q400 operated by Flybe of the UK
Role Turboprop airliner
Manufacturer de Havilland Canada – Toronto
Bombardier Aerospace – Dorval
First flight June 20, 1983
Introduction 1984 with NorOntair
Primary users Air Canada Jazz
United Express
Horizon Air
Produced 1983–present
Number built 1096 (as of December 31, 2012)
Unit cost Q200 US$13 million
Q300 US$17 million
Q400 US$27 million
Developed from de Havilland Canada Dash 7


Design and development

Early −300 cockpit

In the 1970s, de Havilland Canada had invested heavily in its Dash 7 project, concentrating on STOL and short-field performance, the company's traditional area of expertise. Using four medium-power engines with large four-bladed propellers resulted in very low noise levels which, combined with its excellent STOL characteristics, made the Dash 7 suitable for operating from small in-city airports, a market DHC felt would be compelling. However, only a handful of air carriers employed the Dash 7, as most regional airlines were more interested in operational costs than short-field performance.

In 1980, de Havilland responded by dropping the short-field performance requirement and adapting the basic Dash 7 layout to use only two, more powerful engines. Its favoured engine supplier, Pratt & Whitney Canada, developed the new PW100 series engines for the role, more than doubling the power from its PT6. Originally designated the PT7A-2R engine, it later became the PW120. When the Dash 8 rolled out on April 19, 1983, more than 3,800 hours of testing had been accumulated over two years on five PW100 series test engines. Certification of the PW120 followed in late 1983.

Distinguishing features of the Dash 8 design are the large T-tail intended to keep the tail free of prop wash during takeoff, a very high aspect ratio wing, the elongated engine nacelles also holding the rearward-folding landing gear, and the pointed nose profile. First flight was on June 20, 1983, and the airliner entered service in 1984 with NorOntair. In 1984, Piedmont Airlines, formerly Henson Airlines, was the first US customer for the Dash 8.

The Dash 8 design has better cruise performance than the Dash 7, is less expensive to operate and much less expensive to maintain, due largely to having only two engines. The Dash 8 has the lowest cost per passenger mile of any regional airliner of the era. It was a little noisier than the Dash 7 and could not match the STOL performance of its earlier DHC forebears, although it was still able to operate from small airports with 3,000 ft (910 m) runways, compared to the 2,200 ft (670 m) required by a fully loaded Dash 7.

In April 2008, Bombardier announced that production of the Classic versions (Series 100, 200, 300) would be ended, leaving the Series 400 as the only Dash 8 still in production. 671 Dash 8 Classics were produced, the last one delivered to Air Nelson in May 2008.


Modern Q400 cockpit

Bombardier proposed development of a 90-seat stretch of the Q400 with two plug-in segments, called the Q400X project, in 2007. In response to this project, as of November 2007, ATR was studying a 90-seat stretch.

In June 2009, Bombardier commercial aircraft president Gary Scott indicated that the Q400X will be "definitely part of our future" for possible introduction in 2013–14, although he has not detailed the size of the proposed version or committed to an introduction date.

As of July 2010, Bombardier's vice president, Phillipe Poutissou made comments explaining the company was still studying the prospects of designing the Q400X and talking with potential customers. At the time, Bombardier was not as committed to the Q400X as it had been previously. As of May 2011, Bombardier was still strongly committed to the stretch, but envisioned it as more likely as a 2015 or later launch, complicating launch date matters were new powerplants to come online in 2016 from GE and PWC. As of February 2012, Bombardier was still studying the issue, however as of 2011, launch date is no longer targeted for the 2014 range. At least a three-year delay was envisioned.

In October 2012, a joint development deal with a government-lead South Korean consortium was revealed, to develop a 90-seater turboprop regional airliner, targeting a 2019 launch date. The consortium would include Korea Aerospace Industries and Korean Air Lines.

Operational history

Planform view of a Flybe Q400 take off, showing the high aspect ratio wings, the slender nacelles (containing the main undercarriage) and the pointed nose.

The Dash 8 was introduced at a particularly advantageous time; most airlines were in the process of adding new aircraft to their fleets as the airline industry expanded greatly in the 1980s. The older generation of regional airliners from the 1950s and 1960s were nearing retirement, leading to high sales figures. De Havilland Canada was unable to meet the demand with sufficient production.

In 1988, Boeing bought the company in a bid to improve production at DHC's Downsview Airport plants, as well as better position itself to compete for a new Air Canada order for large intercontinental airliners. Air Canada was a Crown corporation at the time, and both Boeing and Airbus were competing heavily via political channels for the contract. It was eventually won by Airbus, which received an order for 34 A320 aircraft in a highly controversial move. The allegations of bribery are today known as the Airbus affair. Following its failure in the competition, Boeing immediately put de Havilland Canada up for sale. The company was eventually purchased by Bombardier in 1992.

The market demand for short-haul airliners was so great that Aérospatiale of France paired with Italy's Alenia to form ATR. Their once separate efforts combined to compete directly with the Dash 8. The resulting ATR 42 was even more economical than the Dash 8, but de Havilland Canada responded with newer models to close the gap. Other companies competed with smaller or more tailored designs, like the Saab 340 and Embraer Brasilia, but by the time these were introduced the market was already reaching saturation.

All Dash 8s delivered from the second quarter of 1996 (including all Series 400s) include the Active Noise and Vibration Suppression (ANVS) system designed to reduce cabin noise and vibration levels to nearly those of jet airliners. To emphasize their quietness, Bombardier renamed the Dash 8 models as the Q-Series turboprops (Q200, Q300 and Q400).

The Dash 8–100 is no longer in production, with the last Dash 8–102 built in 2005. Production of the Q200 and Q300 ceased in May 2009.

Regional jet competition

Qantaslink Q400 "The Pink Link" in a special paint scheme to raise awareness for breast cancer.

The introduction of the regional jet altered the sales picture. Although more expensive than turboprops, regional jets allow airlines to operate passenger services on routes not suitable for turboprops. Turboprop aircraft have lower fuel consumption and can operate from shorter runways than regional jets, but have higher engine maintenance costs, shorter ranges and lower cruising speeds.

The market for new aircraft to replace existing turboprops once again grew in the mid-1990s, and DHC responded with the improved "Series 400" design.

When world oil prices drove up short-haul airfares in 2006, an increasing number of airlines that had bought regional jets began to reassess turboprop regional airliners, which use about 30–60% less fuel than regional jets. Although the market does not appear to be as robust as in the 1980s when the first Dash 8s were introduced, 2007 saw increased sales of the only two 40+ seat regional turboprops still in western production, Bombardier's Q400 and its competitor, the ATR series of 50–70 seat turboprops. The Q400 has a cruising speed close to that of most regional jets, and its mature engines and systems require less frequent maintenance, reducing its disadvantage.

According to Bombardier marketing, the aircraft breaks even with about 1/3 of its seats filled (or 1/4 with more closely spaced seats), making it particularly attractive on routes with varying passenger numbers where many seats would be empty on some flights. For example, Island Air in Hawaii calculated that the use of a 50-seat Regional Jet would break even at 45 passenger seats compared to the Q400's 35–36 seats (around 55% breakeven load factor). Most short-haul routes are less than 350 miles (500 km), so the time spent on taxiing, takeoff and landing virtually eliminates a competing jet's speed advantage. As the Q400's 360 knot (414 mph, 667 km/h) cruise speed approaches jet speeds, short-haul airlines can usually replace a regional jet with a Q400 without changing their gate-to-gate schedules.

Bombardier has singled out the Q400 for more aggressive marketing, launching a website centered around the aircraft. The aircraft is also being considered for a further stretched version (currently designated Q400X) to compete in the 90-seat market range. Bombardier commercial aircraft president Gary Scott has affirmed that 2013–2014 is "the sort of time period we're looking at today" for offering a stretched version of the Q400 turboprop.

Growing competition in the turboprop market from ATR has meant that Bombardier needs to plan as well. A 'stretched' turboprop is “definitely on [Bombardier’s] radar screen”, according to VP of sales and asset management Rob Sheridan, who was speaking at the International Society of Transport Aircraft Trading (ISTAT 2013 ) Americas conference.


Series 100

The 100 and 200 series have the shortest fuselage length in the Dash 8 family; this is the eighth Dash 8 built, a series 100
DHC-8-100 series
Original 37–39 passenger version that entered service in 1984. The original engine was the PW120A (CAA validated on December 13, 1985); later units used the PW121 (CAA validated on February 22, 1990). Rated engine power is 1,800 shp (1,340 kW).
1984 variant powered by either two PW120 or PW120A engines and a 33,000 lb (15,000 kg) takeoff weight.
1986 variant powered by either two PW120A or PW121 engines and a 34,500 lb (15,650 kg) takeoff weight.
1987 variant powered by two PW121 engines and a 34,500 lb (15,650 kg) takeoff weight (can be modified for a 35,200 lb [15,950 kg] take-off weight)
1990 variant powered by two PW120A engines with revised Heath Tecna interior.
1992 variant powered by two PW121 engines and a 36,300 lb (16,450 kg) takeoff weight.
Two aircraft for Maritime Pollution Surveillance, operated by Transport Canada, equipped with the MSS 6000 Surveillance system.
Military transport version for the Canadian Forces in Europe.
Military navigation training version for the Canadian Forces.
A United States Air Force range control aircraft equipped with AN/APS-143(V)-1 radar that operates out of Tyndall AFB, Florida to ensure that the overwater military ranges in the Gulf of Mexico are clear of civilian boats and aircraft during live fire tests of air-launched missiles and other hazardous military activities. Two aircraft are assigned to the 82d Aerial Targets Squadron for the support of training missions. An E-9 can detect a person in a life raft in the water up to 25 miles away.

Series 200

DHC-8-200 Series

Series 100 airframe with more powerful Pratt & Whitney Canada PW123 engines (rated at 2,150 shp or 1,600 kW) for improved performance also capable of carrying 37 to 39 passengers.
1995 variant powered by two PW123C engines.
1995 variant powered by two PW123D engines.
Version of the DHC-8-200 with the ANVS system.

Series 300

A DHC-8-301 of Air Canada Jazz landing at Vancouver International Airport in 2011. The −300 series has a fuselage 3.43 metres (11.3 ft) longer than the −100 and −200, and 6.83 metres (22.4 ft) shorter than the −400
DHC-8-300 Series
Stretched 3.43 metres (11.3 ft) over the Series 100/200, a 50–56 passenger version that entered service in 1989. The Q300 is powered by the Pratt & Whitney PW123 or PW123B or PW123E, rated at 2,380–2,500 shp or 1,774–1,864 kW.
1989 variant powered by two PW123 engines
1990 variant powered by two PW123A engines with revised Heath Tecna interior.
1992 variant powered by two PW123B engines
1995 variant powered by two PW123E engines
Version of the DHC-8-300 with increased payload.
Version of the DHC-8-300 with the ANVS system.
DHC-8-300 MSA
Upgraded variant with L3 for maritime surveillance platform.

Series 400

France Sécurité Civile Q400-MR
1999 variant with a maximum of 68 passengers.
1999 variant with a maximum of 70 passengers.
1999 variant with a maximum of 78 passengers.
Stretched and improved 70–78 passenger version that entered service in 2000. Its 360 knot (667 km/h) cruise speed is 60–90 knots (111–166 km/h) higher than its competitors/predecessors. Powered by PW150A engines rated at 5,071 shp (3,781 kW) at maximum power (4,850 shp or 3,620 kW maximum continuous rated). The maximum operating altitude is 25,000 ft (7,600 m) for the standard version, although a version with drop-down oxygen masks is offered, which increases maximum operating altitude to 27,000 ft (8,200 m). All Q400s include the ANVS system.
Version of the Q400 with updated cabins, lighting, windows, overhead bins, landing gear, as well as reduced fuel and maintenance costs.
2 Q400 adapted to the water bombing role by Cascade Aerospace for the French Sécurité Civile. The tanker mode can carry 2,600 U.S. gallon of retardant, foam or water and travel at 340 knots.
2007 converted for use as a maritime patrol aircraft.
2008 converted pallet freighter variant with a payload of 9000 kg.

Orders and deliveries

Model SeriesOrdersDeliveriesUnfilled
Series 100 299 299
Series 200 105 105
Series 300 267 267
Series 400 463 425 38
Grand Total 1134 1096 38



 Series 100Series 200Series 300Series 400
Unit cost (US$) $12.5 million $13 million $17 million $27 million
Entered service 1984 1995 1989 2000
Aircraft dimensions 
Overall length 73 ft (22.25 m) 84 ft 3 in (25.68 m) 107 ft 8 in (32.81 m)
Height (to top of horizontal tail) 24 ft 7 in (7.49 m) 27 ft 3 in (8.3 m)
Fuselage diameter 8 ft 10 in (2.69 m)
Maximum cabin width 8 ft 3 in (2.51 m)
Cabin length 29 ft 10 in (9.1 m) 41 ft 4 in (12.6 m) 61 ft 8 in (18.8 m)
Wingspan (geometric) 84 ft 11 in (25.89 m) 90 ft (27.43 m) 93 ft 2 in (28.4 m)
Wing area (reference) 585.55 ft² (54.4 m²) 604.93 ft² (56.2 m²) 679.20 ft² (63.1 m²)
Basic operating data 
Engines 2 PW120A/PW121 2 PW123C/D 2 PW123B 2 PW150A
Typical passenger seating 37 (Single Class) 50 (Single Class) 78 (Single Class)
Passenger seating range 37–39 50–56 68–80
Typical cruise speed 310 mph (500 km/h) 269 knots 334 mph (537 km/h) 290 knots 328 mph (528 km/h) 285 knots 414 mph (667 km/h) 360 knots
Maximum operating altitude 25,000 ft (7,620 m) 27,000 ft (8,230 m)
Range (w/typical pax) 1,174 miles (1,889 km) 1,065 miles (1,713 km) 968 miles (1,558 km) 1,567 miles (2,522 km)
Range (w/LR tanks) n/a 1,264 miles (2,034 km) n/a
Takeoff run at MTOW 2,625 ft (800 m) 3,865 ft (1,178 m) 4,600 ft (1,402 m)
Design weights 
Maximum takeoff weight 36,300 lb (16,470 kg) 43,000 lb (19,500 kg) 64,500 lb (29,260 kg)
Maximum landing weight 34,500 lb (15,650 kg) 42,000 lb (19,050 kg) 61,750 lb (28,010 kg)
Maximum zero fuel weight 32,400 lb (14,700 kg) 39,500 lb (17,920 kg) 57,000 lb (25,850 kg)
Maximum fuel capacity 835 imp gal (3,160L) 1,724 imp gal (5,366L) (11830 pounds)
Typical operating weight empty 23,111 lb (10,483 kg) 25,995 lb (11,791 kg) 37,886 lb (17,185 kg)
Typical volumetric payload 7,511 lb (3,407 kg) 11,327 lb (5,138 kg) 19,114 lb (8,670 kg)




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