De Havilland Aircraft of Canada (DHC, Toronto Downsview) has confirmed earlier reports that it will suspend its DHC-8-Q400 production line, located at Toronto Downsview, beyond the aircraft currently on firm order. It did, however, vow to resume assembly in the future, albeit at another site.

"We fully expect worldwide demand for the Dash 8 to return once the industry has recovered from the pandemic, and the aircraft's characteristics - including low operating costs, low emissions impact, and performance capabilities that support efficient regional operations - will make the Dash 8 an important part of the aviation industry's post-pandemic recovery," the Executive Chairman of De Havilland's parent company, Longview Aviation Capital, David Curtis said.

According to the ch-aviation fleets module, the Canadian manufacturer currently has firm orders for eighteen DHC-8-Q400s. However, only nine of them have been assigned to identified airline customers (three each for TAAG Angola Airlines and Ethiopian Airlines, two to Biman Bangladesh Airlines, and one to Air Tanzania), the other nine orders are for three remaining aircraft each ordered by ACIA Aero, Conair (FGD, Abbotsford) and Elin Group. DHC also has two aircraft previously built for SpiceJet (SG, Delhi International) that remain unassigned for now.

"The production phase on backlog aircraft is expected to be completed within the 1st half of 2021, although deliveries will continue throughout 2021," spokesperson Philippa King told ch-aviation.

The manufacturer also confirmed that its Toronto Downsview facility would close once the lease expires at the end of this year. De Havilland Aircraft of Canada acquired the lease from Bombardier Aerospace in 2018 and will not seek to extend the contract.

"De Havilland Canada has begun preparing to leave the site over the latter part of the year. There are a number of excellent production site options in Canada, and the company will be ready to meet new aircraft demand as the industry recovers," it said.

Longview Aviation Capital is also parent to Viking Air (VKN, Victoria International), the manufacturer of the DHC-6-400 and the type certificate-holder of all other Dash turboprops. Its production line is at Victoria International, BC.

De Havilland said that even though the Dash 8-400's production has been put on hold, it will still provide support to existing type operators. It will also work on various upgrades, including freighter conversions and new cabin outfitting. The closure of the Downsview facility will affect around 500 staff.