De Havilland begins ‘decommissioning’ Downsview production site, but could retain presence

From Flight Global – link to source story

By Jon Hemmerdinger | 17 June 2021

De Havilland Canada has started “decommissioning” its Dash 8-400 manufacturing site in Toronto and will soon pause production, but remains hopeful in retaining some presence at the site in the city’s Downsview section.

Dash 8-400 production is still ongoing as the company works through its remaining order backlog, De Havilland tells FlightGlobal.

“De Havilland Canada will complete the pause process over the next few weeks as these aircraft flow through the line,” it adds. “We have also begun a very methodical process of decommissioning the Downsview facility and capturing and safely securing all of our production jigs, fixtures and equipment to enable an efficient restart when market conditions permit.”

PAL Airlines Dash
Source: PAL Airlines
A PAL Airlines De Havilland Canada Dash 8 turboprop

In February, De Havilland said it would pause Dash 8 production after filling all outstanding orders. In disclosing that decision, which came nearly one year into the Covid-19 pandemic, De Havilland said “industry circumstances have hindered the ability to confirm new aircraft sales”.

De Havilland has 12 Dash 8-400s remaining on order, according to Cirium data.

Also, De Havilland’s lease on the Downsview facility expires this year, and the owner of the facility intends to decommission the site’s adjacent runway by June 2023, De Havilland says.

“However, both the landlords and De Havilland Canada are keen to see the De Havilland name remain at the site and are having discussions to that end,” the company adds. “We hope to have presence at the site for an extended time frame and are in discussions with our current landlord.”

De Havilland does not provide more details.

Bombardier sold the Dash 8 programme in 2019 to De Havilland, a unit of Longview Aviation Capital, for $285 million. Bombardier had been leasing the Downsview site since selling it in 2018 to Public Sector Pension Investment Board.

“We have begun the first phase of our move-out plan with the capture of all of our Dash 8 production equipment,” De Havilland says.

The company is also “progressing on the completion of the carve-out from Bombardier”, investing in three areas to complete that process. Those include investments in information technology and customer support, which will enable the company to “exit Bombardier’s IT network”.

De Havilland is also investing to create its own global parts distribution network and spending money to secure its manufacturing intellectual property ahead of leaving the Downsview site, it says.

“De Havilland Canada is executing a phased plan that will move us back into production once the industry recovers and demand for new aircraft improves,” it adds. “There are many viable locations for a production restart, but until we complete work in subsequent phases we won’t comment.”