Muskoka Mod Centre, Inc. is a company you might not have heard of.  But that is going to change. They are based in Gravenhurst, Ontario, at Muskoka Airport (CYQA), a 35-minute flight north of Toronto. This company is part of Muskoka Aircraft, which has a record of interesting modifications and paintwork. And it is to start something new: converting De Havilland Canada Dash 8-400s into full freighters. 

After completing a Beech 1900D passenger-to-freighter conversion program, Muskoka feels that demand for a larger regional freighter is strong enough to expand the operation. The company currently operates a modification center, converting Beech 1900Ds, and offers a full paint facility to regional carriers through Muskoka Aircraft Refinishing Inc.

President Michael Goudie said: “The Company plans to offer two options of the De Havilland Canada Dash 8-400 conversions, a package freighter for bulk loaded cargo, and a Large Cargo Door variant capable of loading and carrying LD3 type ULD containers.”

The DHC Dash 8-400 is ideal for this role due to its low operational cost, range of operation, package capacity, and airfield accessibility.
Goudie further noted: “The Company is underway with engineering and will begin accepting orders from customers in November 2022. The Company expects to gain Transport Canada approvals for both options and plans to be in full production by 2024.”

Muskoka’s innovation with the cargo door will be interesting for operators.  It is a sliding door – no power, actuators, or heavy parts are needed. The converted will have an uncompromised payload capacity. Operators can acquire an aircraft at low capital costs offering simple loading and unloading. This innovation comes when several firms are converting ATRs into freighters and finding an attractive market. A ready supply of Dash 8-400s will add price pressure to the market, potentially invigorating it. With several aircraft coming onto the market, Muskoka has an accessible feedstock. The conversion market gives a second life to the Dash8.

De Havilland Canada unveiled three cargo options at the Farnborough Airshow in July: the Quick Change (QF), Package Freighter (PF), and the Freighter with Large Cargo Door (F-LCD).  Ethiopian Airways was the first airline to announce a proposal to convert two Dash 8-400s into the F-LCD version, with two more on option. “De Havilland Canada will offer the three launched cargo conversion solutions through original equipment manufacturer (OEM) Service Bulletins approved by Transport Canada, and we are ready to provide a wide range of OEM support as desired by our operators – from kit installation to on-site support through our global support infrastructure,” said Jean-Philippe Cote, Vice President Programs.  We understand that firms that had entered into a deal with DHC on this project have had their deposits returned.

Muskoka is a firm to watch. Another innovative Canadian aero solution.

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Co-Founder AirInsight. My previous life includes stints at Shell South Africa, CIC Research, and PA Consulting. Got bitten by the aviation bug and ended up an Avgeek. Then the data bug got me, making me a curious Avgeek seeking data-driven logic. Also, I appreciate conversations with smart people from whom I learn so much. Summary: I am very fortunate to work with and converse with great people.

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