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July 14, 2024
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The venerable De Havilland Canada Dash-8 turboprop family has long been a multi-mission aircraft, including passenger, combi, cargo, and military special missions applications. De Havilland Canada and PAL Aerospace have joined forces to develop a new special mission model, the P-4 based on the Dash 8-400.

Under this program, the Dash8 will be modified to include auxiliary fuel tanks and missionized for maritime patrol and ISR (intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance) applications. The joint venture arrangements, struck earlier this year, enable De Havilland Canada to expand applications for the Dash 8-400 series with military customers around the globe.

PAL Aerospace is an aerospace company with more than 40 years’ experience in converting civilian aircraft to medical and special mission military configurations. Key customers for its conversions include the Government of Canada, the Government of the Netherlands, the United Arab Emirates Air Force and the Oil and Gas Consortium in Canada. The company also offers contracted ISR services, supplying both equipment and crew to carry out operations anywhere in the world.

Jake Trainer, CEO of PAL Aerospace, is excited to work with DHC on the P-4 aircraft initiative. “The considerable cabin space, payload capacity, best-in-class airspeed profile and advantageous operating economics of the Dash-8-400 platform, combined with De Havilland Canada’s proud 92 year history of innovation and leadership in aircraft design and manufacturing, provide an ideal foundation from which to launch the Dash 8 P-4 program.”

As a full-service provider of specialized aircraft modifications, PAL aerospace has a strong understanding of both the market and the Dash8 airframe. “PAL Aerospace’s unmatched credentials in the design and modification of MPA and ISR aircraft, their understanding of the Dash 8 as a current operator of the platform, and their more than 40 years’ experience in special missions operations are unique in Canada and around the world,” said David Curtis, Executive Chairman of Longview Aviation Capital, De Havilland Canada’s Parent Company. “We are excited to collaborate on this initiative and believe strongly that the Dash 8 P-4 will prove to be a market leading MPA and ISR solution while supporting the highly skilled employment and the development of critical intellectual property here in Canada.”

Both PAL and De Havilland Canada are excited about the market potential for the P-4. The companies believe that a significant potential market exists in the MPA and ISR market. The unique capabilities of the Dash 8-400 platform, in combination with PAL Aerospace’s capabilities as a full-service provider of specialized aircraft modification, technology integration and special mission operations will deliver a unique value proposition. The companies are currently working together to offer a comprehensive Dash 8 P-4 Maritime Patrol solution for the Royal Malaysian Air Force.

Advantages of the Dash 8 in special mission roles include the aircraft’s turboprop efficiency and low environmental impact. The high productivity and jet-like speed advantages extend to the special missions market, where the combination of speed and additional fuel capacity will enable fast response with prolonged time on station. The P-4 has the key ingredients necessary for market success, and along with the Boeing 737 based P-8 is a potential replacement for older Lockheed Electra based P-3 aircraft. That model has been in service for more than 50 years with more than 400 aircraft still operating worldwide in 17 countries.

author avatar
Ernest Arvai
President AirInsight Group LLC

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