de Havilland Canada DHC-8-402Q with Pratt & Whitney Canada PW150A
Twin turboprop high wing monoplane airliner with t-tail and 4 abreast seating

ICAO classL2T
ICAO categoryM
ICAO equipment/R/W/Y
Take Off Distance (m, TODR at MTOW in ISA)1402
Service ceiling (FL)250
Cruise speed (VC, KTAS)350
Max speed (VMO, KTAS)365
MTOW (kg)29260
Range (nm at MTOW)1290
Number in fleet84
Seating (single class)76; Y76 @ 31″ 4 abreast
Seating (two class)71; Y64 @ 31″ 4 abreast and J7 @ 34″ 3 abreast

Intercity chose Bombardier’s Dash 8 Q400 because it offers a larger cabin that most regional jets, whilst being cheaper to run and only slightly slower. It is also approved to operate in to London City Airport, unlikely most regional jet equivalents. Flight Simulator pilots will find the handling characteristics very different to other aircraft; the propellers spin in the same direction so there is a strong torque/propwash effect to counteract at high power settings and air flow over the wing is also highly influenced by engine power settings.

The Dash 8 was born from the ashes of de Havilland Canada’s (DHC) niche Dash 7; it offered serious STOL performance but had four engines to maintain and with 50 seats was generally oversized for the airfields that demanded its specialist abilities. As a result, only 113 found homes between 1975 and 1988.

The 37 seat DHC-8-100 entered service in 1984, improving cruise performance and operating costs at the expense of STOL ability. The four Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6 engines were replaced with two PW100s. Upgraded PW123 engines were offered from 1995 as the 200 series.

DHC was privatised and sold by the Canadian government in 1986 to Boeing, who stretched it to fit 50 seats in 1989 as the 300 series. DHC was sold on to Bombardier in 1992, who made Active Noise and Vibration Suppression (ANVS) standard fit on all models in 1996 and later used the Q100, Q200 and Q300 monikers to emphasise the quietness in the cabin.

The Q402 entered service in 2000 with a further increased capacity of 78 seats. The new PW150A engines allowed cruise speeds to jump from 285 up to 360 KTAS, making the Q400 one of the fastest ever propliners. And to help pilots keep on top of everything, a full glass cockpit was fitted. The rest of the Dash 8 family ceased production in 2009.

The Dash 8 enjoyed strong sales during the 1980s as the now deregulated industry expanded and airlines replaced their ’60s era aircraft. The birth of the Embraer and Canadair Regional Jets (the ERJ and CRJ) in the 1990s marked a decline in turboprop fortunes; with similar operating costs but superior performance and image, regional jets won over the 50 seat market segment and lent a hand in poor sales performance of the Saab 2000 and BAe ATP. By the end of the decade, the only Western-built regional turboprops in production were the Dash 8 and highly economical ATR 42/72.

However, with the continuing increase in fuel prices, the 30-60% reduction in fuel consumption that a turboprop offers, coupled with lower initial price, has reinvigorated the market somewhat. Partially owing to issues with Bombardier’s CSeries regional jet programme, most of its functions aside from business jet manufacture were sold off; the Dash 8 programme and de Havilland Canada (DHC) name going to Viking Air in 2018, who already held rights to the DHC-6 Twin Otter. Viking’s production of the Q400 at Downsview, Toronto ceased in 2021 owing to an empty order book although plans are afoot to re-establish production near Calgary.