De Havilland Canada has rolled out a simplified package freighter that is immediately available and can be applied to any of the aircraft in operation. This is particularly interesting since operators realize that domestic flights are the key to restart operations given travel restrictions between countries. Brian Pearce, IATA’s Chief Economist, talking about domestic markets on April 21 said: “…the key for development after the lockdown. Domestic markets will open up first, international after.”
It’s one thing to operate overseas repatriation flights and move shipments of medical supplies and other critical cargo. How do you disseminate the goods quickly within a country? Quickly being the critical function with medical supplies. Operators (and governments) cannot justify the costs to fly 60, 90 minutes, or even 2-hour sectors to distribute smaller batches of critical cargo using large aircraft. However, operators with turboprops can do that. And do it cost-efficiently in order to sustain long term operations for the next few months, perhaps through the rest of this year.
De Havilland has one reconfiguration under development that would allow Dash 8 aircraft to be converted for use as air ambulances. They are also expediting the development of a simplified package freighter configuration that can be quickly reconfigured via removal of seats and seat track covers only and returned to service transforming the Dash 8-400 passenger cabin to carrying light freight. The simplified freighter removes seats and seat track covers. Then 17 cargo nets are installed on the seat tracks.
“The reconfiguration of Dash 8-400 aircraft into Simplified Package Freighters can be quickly achieved by the removal of seats and seat track covers in the passenger cabin. The reconfiguration, which includes the use of up to 17 nets will provide a potential total payload of up to 17,960 lb. and a total cargo volume of up to 1,150 cubic feet per aircraft,” said Todd Young, Chief Operating Officer, De Havilland Canada.
Today Jazz ordered the Service Bulletin and conversion kits for up to 13 Dash 8-400 aircraft. De Havilland Canada will be the exclusive supplier of all future Dash 8-400 aircraft Simplified Package Freighter modifications for Jazz’s fleet.