General aviation

De Havilland name returns to the skies


In a move decades in the making, the De Havilland name will once again take to the skies, reviving one of Canada’s most storied brands.

De Havilland Aircraft of Canada Limited was officially launched Monday, more than 90 years since the company was first created as an offshoot of its British parent.

De Havilland will become the trade name for the Dash-8 programme worldwide, which will include ongoing production of the Q400, the only Dash-8 still being built at a factory in Toronto.

The DHC-2 Beaver, a bush plane that first flew in 1947, gave the company a reputation for rugged, dependable aircraft well-suited for missions in remote and inhospitable regions, such as Canada’s Arctic.

The revival of the De Havilland name, and the reunification of all DHC types under a single owner was made possible when Longview Aviation Capital bought the Dash 8 series from Bombardier of Montreal in November 2018. A Longview subsidiary, Viking Air of Victoria, B.C., already holds the type certificates for older DHC variants.

“We are particularly proud to introduce De Havilland Aircraft of Canada as an operating company and return the De Havilland Canada brand to prominence in the global aerospace industry,” said Longview chairman David Curtis.

“The iconic De Havilland name dates back almost one hundred years, and is responsible for some of the most renowned aircraft in aviation history. The combination of the Dash 8 with the existing Longview Aviation Capital portfolio unites the entire De Havilland product line under the same banner for the first time in decades. With a new corporate identity that draws on the rich brand heritage, we are excited about the opportunities we see ahead for this company, and for the Dash 8 aircraft.”

While the De Havilland Canada name is iconic, it has not always been profitable. In 1974, the government of Canada nationalized the company, rescuing the Dash-7 series, and maintaining aircraft production in the country.

De Havilland was sold to Boeing in 1986, then to Bombardier in 1992, which helped the company grow into a powerhouse of regional aviation, with the development of the Dash-8 series and ultimately the Q400.

De Havilland will be tasked with supporting and producing the entire Dash-8 line from its original Toronto factory for at least another four years, when the factory lease expires.

“We are excited to begin the next chapter for this aircraft program and to share the De Havilland Aircraft of Canada brand with the world,” said Todd Young, De Havilland’s Chief Executive Officer. Young was with Bombardier for 30 years, and was most recently responsible for the Q400 programme.

“Our team at Downsview is engaged and motivated, and we look forward to working with our customers, suppliers and industry partners to maintain the Dash 8 turboprop’s position as one of the world’s most important commercial aircraft.”

Longview said it has assumed all of the union contracts at the Toronto plant, and nearly all employees have transferred to the new company.

In Canada, Air Canada, Porter Airlines, and Westjet are the largest operators of the Q400, while Viking Air still produces Twin Otters at its factory on Vancouver Island. Beavers, Otters, and other DHC variants still remain in active service around the world.