Why Do Dash 7s Still Fly in Canada?

Why Do Dash 7s Still Fly in Canada?

A big thank you to JetTip for sponsoring this
video. The de Havilland Canada Dash 8 is a widely
popular regional turboprop aircraft that has sold in the hundreds and thousands. But before this regional success story came
another aircraft. That aircraft is the de Havilland Canada Dash
7. While the Dash 7 may look similar in that
it is also a high-winged, T-tail turboprop, it was designed with a much different mission
in mind. By the late 1960s, de Havilland Canada had
become known as a world leader in producing Short Take-off and Landing, or STOL aircraft,
from the DHC-2 Beaver, all the way to the DHC-6 Twin Otter. At the time, according to some United States
government studies, it seemed that the future of short-haul traffic between densely populated
cities would be served by STOL-ports, or specialized airports designed with short-field aircraft
in mind. These would be built close to city centres,
with multiple daily flights performing feeder services to larger existing airports. And so, the Dash 7 was born, as a STOL turboprop
airliner capable of carrying up to 50 passengers. Powered by four Pratt and Whitney PT6-50 turboprop
engines, the Dash 7 was offered in both a passenger only configuration, and a combi
version, with a large cargo door at the front. The Dash 7 has a maximum takeoff weight of
44,000 pounds and can operate from runways as short as 2,000 feet long. The aircraft’s large flaps extend as far
as 45 degrees for STOL landings, and thanks to the high engine and wing arrangement, it
can operate on virtually any type of runway – dirt, gravel, and even ice. With an approach speed as low as 76 knots
(depending on the payload) in many ways, the Dash 7 is essentially a larger, four-engine
version of the Twin Otter. Now obviously, the STOL-port concept never
materialized. The aircraft though, quickly found a niche
operating from existing airports with challenging approaches like London City. It also saw use as an effective 50-seat regional
airliner, although its STOL capabilities weren’t necessarily needed. However, the pure and simple fact still remained
that two engines are less expensive to operate than four. With the introduction of the Dash 8 in the
early 1980s, being more focused on economics rather than performance, the Dash 7 was no
longer needed in typical airline service. Production ended in 1988 with 113 aircraft
built. These days, there are only 15 or so Dash 7s
flying around the world. The majority of these are flown by the United
States Army, along with two belonging to Air Kenya. There are also a couple more aircraft flying
with other operators, including the British Antarctic Survey. Canada, however, has three distinct operators
of the Dash 7, the most of any country in the world. These include Transport Canada, Trans Capital
Air, and Air Tindi. Transport Canada currently operates one aircraft. This bright red Dash 7 flies as part of the
National Aerial Surveillance Program. Along with two other Dash 8s, this aircraft
monitors shipping activities, ice conditions, marine security, as well as pollution along
Canada’s waterways. The Dash 7’s slow flight capabilities make
it a very useful aircraft for this type of work, as well as its high payload. With that ability, the Government of Canada
has outfitted the aircraft with advanced equipment like: and so on. The aircraft is based in Ottawa during the
winter months, patrolling the Great Lakes, and moves to Iqaluit, during the Arctic shipping
season in the summer. Moving on, to Trans Capital Air, which is
a charter airline based in Toronto, Ontario. They have 10 Dash 7s on the Canadian Civil
Aircraft Register, although most of these are currently parked at Toronto City Centre
Airport. Trans Capital Air’s aircraft have mostly
been flying for the United Nations on peacekeeping and humanitarian missions. While not necessarily flying within Canada,
the Dash 7’s ability to operate from nearly any surface makes it the ideal choice for
this type of operation. At least one of these aircraft was still flying
as of August 2019, but it’s not clear what the future holds for these airframes. And finally – Air Tindi, a Northern Canadian
airline based out of Yellowknife, Northwest Territories. Air Tindi bought their first Dash 7 in 1996,
a few years after the discovery of diamonds just a couple hundred kilometers from Yellowknife. These aircraft would soon become indispensable
during the construction of these diamond mines, and still provide a lifeline to this day. One of the advantages of the Dash 7 is the
payload it can carry, and the large cargo door on the combi versions is hugely beneficial. On Air Tindi’s aircraft, the combi configuration
allows the airline to adjust capacity as needed. They can fly anything from a full load of
46 passengers, or up to 10,000 pounds of cargo only, depending on the aircraft. For Air Tindi, the STOL abilities of the Dash
7 are incredibly useful in the Canadian Arctic. The vast majority of Northern settlements
can only be accessed by air. Other aircraft like the 737-200, and ATR 42,
can serve the larger airports. However, for communities with even smaller
and shorter runways, the Dash 7 provides a vital service, connecting these Canadians
to the outside world. For the past two summers, Air Tindi has been
operating fishing charter flights with the Dash 7. These fly from Vancouver International Airport
to Bella Bella, on Campbell Island in northwestern British Columbia – a 3500 foot runway! However, that pales in comparison to some
high arctic destinations, including this 1950 foot gravel strip at 76 degrees North in Grise
Fiord, Nunavut! And the Dash 7’s performance is no joke. Myself and 30 other aviation enthusiasts were
treated to a short field takeoff in one of Air Tindi’s aircraft earlier this year. Although we had more than enough runway to
begin with, with a total takeoff weight of 42,000 pounds, we were airborne in roughly
1200 feet! Experiencing that kind of performance on what
is effectively a regional airliner shows you just how useful a Dash 7 can be. As always though, the question remains – How
long will operators be able to keep the Dash 7 in the air? Another Northern Canadian airline, Buffalo
Airways, is able to keep their vintage Douglas DC-3s flying, because of the sheer number
that were produced. With, quite literally, thousands of DC-3s
built, parts can still be found even 75 years later. So with just over a hundred Dash 7s built,
scattered all around the globe, you can see why operators like Air Tindi face an issue
when it comes to parts. By limiting their fleet, Air Tindi believes
they can keep the Dash 7 flying for another 10 years. Eventually, though, the Dash 7 will have to
be retired. But because it’s such a versatile aircraft,
there really is no better alternative without compromising on performance or payload. Viking Air of Victoria, British Columbia,
currently owns the type certificate for the Dash 7, along with that of every other De
Havilland Canada aircraft. Essentially, this gives Viking the: Now obviously, a newly built Dash 7 would
be a dream for operators like Air Tindi. However, as Viking stated when they bought
the type certificate back in 2006, they need to assess the market first. For an aircraft as niche as the Dash 7, the
demand may not be enough to warrant completely restarting production, as Viking has done
with the Twin Otter. Viking remains the only source of certified,
factory-new spare parts, and their spokesperson told Skies Magazine earlier this year that: In the meantime though, this aircraft will
continue to fly within Canada. From supplying and supporting the North to
safeguarding the pristine waters of the Great Lakes, the Dash 7 is a truly Canadian aircraft,
and will remain that way for the foreseeable future. So the next time a Dash 7 visits your local
airport, you’d probably want to know. And that’s why today’s video is sponsored
by JetTip. JetTip is an automatic flight alert service
for aviation enthusiasts and plane spotters. It monitors and analyzes air traffic at different
airports from multiple online sources. You’ll receive alerts for notable aircraft
like special visitors or diversions. JetTip offers these smart alerts at most airports
in the US and Canada, and airports can be added upon request. Improve your avgeek experience, and sign up
at JetTip.net for a seven-day free trial. A genuine thank you to those of you who have
made it this far in the video. This has been a project I’ve been working
on for well over a month now, and I’m very thankful to the wonderful people at Air Tindi
for helping me out along the way. The inflight footage you saw throughout was
recorded on board a special aviation enthusiast charter flight in August. I’ll leave a link to that video in the description
below. I also owe a huge thank you to my good friends
Mark Brandon and YQBSpotting. They were both kind enough to let me use their
Dash 7 footage. This video wouldn’t have been possible without
their help, so please go check them out! If you enjoyed the video, please leave a thumbs
up. It would really help me out, and if you’re
new to the channel, subscribe if you’d like to see more like this! Once again, thank you so much for watching,
and I’ll see you in the next one.

100 thoughts on “Why Do Dash 7s Still Fly in Canada?

  1. Hey everyone, hope you enjoyed this latest project of mine! Just wanted to say a big thank you once again to Nathan Taylor at Air Tindi for willing to do that short interview with me! The audio isn’t great since it was recorded on the ramp in Vancouver (next to a very busy runway), but I think it adds a lot to the video. Thank you for watching, and have a great day 🙂

  2. I live in Manitoba, and without these intermediate size planes, many towns in our province would be cut off. Thanks to our great pilots, our excellent mechanics cannabilzing on old planes to maintain a healthy fleet, our towns are connected from north to south all year around.

  3. I HATED refuelling the 8s, bleeding colourful hydraulics and crap all over u while u do (international refueller, CYEG)
    If the 7s are safe and nicer to flood, wtf is there an issue?

  4. I'm sure you're a really nice person, but your voice is just so irritating. If you have a wife or a girlfriend my advice to you would be don't talk dirty to her during you know what time. She'll just get turned off

  5. We still use a heavily modified one up here in Yellowknife, nwt, Canada for Medivacs to down south if I’m correct. we toured one at air tindi for my aviation class once they are pretty impressive, especially on short ice runways

  6. With new manufacturing techniques, laser fabricators and so on perhaps the future for these flying airframes might be prolonged indefinitely. I've noted that Viking Air is DeHavilland Canada once more. It will take considerable imagination and engineering skill to keep the various DHC types flying or put into new production. I note also that roughly 16 DHC5's are still airworthy. I wonder if there is a Canadian operator who would be able to acquire and rebuild those aircraft.

  7. The Transport Canada dash 7 does often fly out of Greater Moncton as well. I see this plane all the time flying out of CYQM.

  8. Might have been worth my attention if it had a real human voice over. Why spend all that time on research, and production just to completely ruin it with that crap

  9. I had the privilege of flying in one in Chad in 2011. It was pot luck as to what would turn up to lift us from our UN camp beside a gravel runway. At various times we flew in Spanish Casa 235's, a Greek C130, a French Transall, a Russian Antonov 12 and, to my delight, on what was to be my second last internal flight in Chad a Canadian Dash 7 arrived to take us to the airport at Abeche to board a Spanish MD-80 to N'Djamena for my last flight before travelling home. I never thought that I would get to fly a four engined turboprop and as I have already flown in a twin Otter it now leaves only the beautiful Beaver on floats to complete my DeHavilland bucket list.

  10. I had a Dash-7 delivering fuel to our forest fire complex in Northern Alberta back in the late 90's. It was a remote 2200 ft grass airstrip and quite narrow. He could bring in 30 drums of turbofuel at a time. No room to turn around so he just backed up the length of the strip. I can't remember the operator's name. Very impressive machine.

  11. During the mid 1980's I flew from Detroit to Grand Rapids and landed on an un plowed runway with 5 to 6 in. of snow. No other commercial air plane would have landed. My seat was just behind the landing gear and I watched the ruts that were made, cool.

  12. Two were used by Brymon Offshore flying between Aberdeen and Scatsta (in the UK) until the year 2000. I've been in aviation for nearly 25 years and they remain my favourite 'plane.

  13. Not wholly unlike its predecessors, the -4 Caribou and -5 Buffalo. Too bad that adding concrete to runways turned out cheaper than adding lift to wings. :-(*

  14. IMAGINE……make the damn parts. This "running out of parts" excuse is just designed to fail thinking. Instead of sticking with soemthing that is proven and efficient….the drive for "new tech" means ditching what works, just so certain pockets can be lined at the expense of the masses.


  16. 4 engines require more maintenance but they also provide more propwash to blow through the flaps. That greatly enhances the lift at takeoff.

  17. In 2001, I had the opportunity to fly in a Dash-7. It was from Manila, Philippines, to a short strip in Caticlam, Aklan province to go to Boracay, before it was spoiled. The strip is only 800 m long and was closed shortly after. The pilot handled that Dash-7 like a fighter jock. First he came in steep and fast, buzzing the goats and water buffalo off the strip. Then he did a 180 and plopped in on the strip in 400 m. As I got off the plane, I saw him in the cockpit and I asked him, "How many metres was that?" His beaming reply was. "About 400, sir." I replied, "Fun?" and his reply was, "Yes Sir!" That aircraft was crashed at Manila soon after.

  18. We operated these aircraft with Air Wisconsin Airlines. They were wonderful airplanes and helped us grow into a major carrier in the Midwest. They remain a well loved aircraft by the veteran employees of Air Wisconsin.

  19. The transport Canada surveillance DH7 flies out of Moncton now. It has a dedicated hanger for Atlantic operations on the south side of the airport. Very nice aircraft.

  20. One of the worst flights of my life was on a rickety old Dash 7, on a US Air Express flight between Roanoke and Philadelphia. Short flight, low altitude, in weather. The turbulence terrified me and gave me fear flying for life. I still fly, but I don’t like it! Those little turboprops fly way to low for me!

  21. From the video: " Now obviously the Stol-port concept never materialized. The aircraft though, quickly found a niche, operating from existing airports with challenging approaches, like London City Airport. " Uhhh, London City Airport was a Stol-Port. The possibility of a StolPort there was demonstrated by landing a Dash-7 on an unused pier in the middle of the city. London City Airport, and it's steep ILS approach glideslope, were designed around the capabilities of the Dash-7.

  22. Replace them with C130 Hercules’s by Lockheed. They they are still making them and they have amazing take off capabilities plus a huge cargo capacity.

  23. Beautiful plane. Hope it goes back into production or that at least repair parts will be manufactured to keep these planes flying.

  24. Just wanted you to know that I liked this video because I have had many flights on the dash 7 go to and from Saba – St Eustacius & St Martin in the Caribbean – it is exhilarating to see the list to land on service runway which is only 1300 feet long and on the side of a cliff on an island that is only 5 mi.² of surface area. The Netherlands Antilles airline WinAir operates these craft quite well. I would love to see a video on the Dash 7 and for you to experience the landing!

  25. Thanks for the great video and informative discussion about the Dash 7 and the niche market it operates in! One would think that there would be more demand for aircraft with its capabilities. African aviation and perhaps Latin American operations in rural areas come to mind. I guess it's a matter of knowing the airframe exists and having the money to buy it, both tall hurdles for small operators servicing out of the way places.

  26. The C-130 Hercules might be a replacement for the Dash 7: plenty of C130s about, good lift and take-off performance and lots in storage since the cold war ended.

  27. Interesting vid, especially about the dependence on availability of parts. I see the next era of robotics being a time when any part from any machine can be replicated from its 3d drawings and specification in much the same way as a 3d printer works today. Of course skilled engineers can already do this, but at much greater cost.

  28. I remember it flying at the Canadian National Exhibition (Toronto) airshow in the late 70's. It did a slow fly by that I remember as being just about soundless. I guess they were trying to make the point that regional planes would not create a lot of neighbourhood noise. It did steal the show in my opinion.


  30. I was going to fly one this summer, but did not take off…3 times false hope. We had Pizza Party all afternoon, instead. The pilot told me: the Q400's engine (1)alone has more power than 2 engines on the Dash-7.
    He also mentioned that they are used in Africa.

  31. Now this is the kind of plane that Lockheed-Martin and HAV are trying to replace with their all-terrain hybrid airships. The question is, are the efficiency and capital cost advantages enough to counterbalance the initial R&D costs and slower operational speed?

  32. I was a Dash-7 flight attendant in the 1980's. We flew routes all over southern & northern California. Home base was LAX. Awesome crews, awesome trips, awesome airplane.
    So many good memories. I love that airplane! Thanks for the video.

  33. I am quite certain if the Canadian government invokes the Emergency Measures Act and orders Viking to restart production of Dash 7's for national security reasons, Viking executives would have a hard time saying no.

  34. Cool. I had to Google it: In my town we have a short runway, operated by the airline Widerøe. They first flew with Twin Otter and then Dash 7. They had 8 of them between 1981 and 1994. So it was at my airport and I might have flown in it. So it is kinda cool. Now they only use Dash 8.

  35. Used to travel in these from Aberdeen to Unst in the Shetland Isles before flying by helicopter offshore. Had the shortest runway I've ever landed on.

  36. The Goony will probably out last these it seems. Its ability on short rough strips matches most planes available. And there is more flying commercially than these still.

  37. FANTASTIC! Very well done, I especially liked how you kept the script interesting without talking down to us or putting us to sleep. I am happy to subscribe!

  38. I toured the Downsview plant when the last three -7’s were on the production line and the -8’s we’re still mock-ups, but their new tooling was trickling in: exciting, but sad.

  39. Those Dash 7s won’t fade away. They’re going to slowly be scavenged to death until only a couple are left functional. Not the worst death only typical for aircraft.

  40. Viking Air is a great Canadian story. Picked up a whole bunch of designs from De Havilland. Chipmunk, Otter, Beaver Caribou Buffalo, and Dash – 7. Still building some of these designs as new and supporting parts for the rest.
    "Viking owns the Type Certificate for the DHC-7 and provides parts and support services to the fleet worldwide"

  41. The STOLPort materialize, and the initial DASH-7 orders went to the operator who created a number of them: Rocky Mountain Airways.

    The company created two STOLports to serve ski areas, as well as working with DHC on the specs for the DHC-7, as well as pioneering things like Microwave Landing System and some of the first GPS approaches.

    There are some audio-only interviews floating around with the RMA CEO describing this history, prior to their acquisition by Continental and operation as Continental Express.

    Neat video about the aircraft.

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