Dash 8 Q400:
An overview of the Dash 8 Q400 aircraft incl. history, facts and figures:
(In this photo: a flybe Dash 8 Q400)
The Bombardier Aerospace Dash 8 (previously called the de Havilland Canada Dash 8) is a medium range, regional twin-engine, turboprop airline. Developed from the Dash 7 in the 1980's the Dash 8-100 series was first introduced with NorOntair on the 23rd of October 1984 (the aircraft registration at the time was C-GJCB). Following the success of the Q100 and Q200 Dash-8 variants (which could accommodate up to 40 passengers) Bombardier decided to build a stretched version of the aircraft and in 1989 the 50-seat Dash 8-300 entered service with Time Air. The main fuselage of the DHC-8-100 was stretched with plugs added before and aft of the wing section increasing the overall length of the airplane by around 11 feet. Additionally, the wing span was increased from 25 to 28 meters. In February year 2000, the improved and even more stretched Dash 8-Q400 series entered commercial service with SAS (Scandinavian Airlines System). Accommodating up to around 80 passengers the Q400 was a direct rival to the ATR-72 turboprop and boasted an outstanding cruise speed of 360 knots (which is relatively close to that of jet aircraft cruising speeds).
Dash 8 Q400 flight video (take-off and landing)
The Dash 8-Q400 is also said to be one of the worlds quietest turboprops partly due to the special computer managed Noise and Vibration Suppression (NVS) system which was introduced to the Dash 8 family in 1996. Since production began in 1983, over 1000 Dash-8 series aircraft have been built and Bombardier plans to build 192 more DHC-8 units by 2016 (this could be subject to change).
Dash 8 aircraft performance, engines and flight deck:
Performance and specifications
The most performing model of the Dash 8 series aircraft is the Q400 version. With a maximum cruise speed of 360 kts (414 mph) and a maximum operating altitude of 27000 feet (for the version that is equipped with automatic drop-down passenger oxygen masks) the Q400 can carry passengers on routes as long as 1560 miles. In comparison, the Dash 8-100 series is capable of reaching speeds of 310 mph and can carry passengers for 1100 miles. However, when in Maximum Take-Off Weight (MTOW) the Dash 8-Q400 needs around 4600 feet (1400 meters) runway length to perform a takeoff, while the Dash 8-100 only needs 2600 feet.
(In this photo: Dash 8-Q400 of flybe airlines)
Overall the DHC-8-Q400 measures almost 33 meters in length and has a geometric wingspan of 28.4 meters. The wing of the Dash 8 has a high aspect ratio (wing length compared to the chord) of 12.8 which adds to airplane stability and creates lower induced drag. The 2 engines that power the Dash 8 are mounted under the wings in elongated engine nacelles which also hold the Menasco mail landing gear which when retracted, folds in a rearward motion.
The Dash-8-Q400 airplane is powered by two Pratt & Whitney PW150A turboprop engines. Each engine produces around 5000 shp (3800 kw) and is controlled by the dual-channel FADEC (Full Authority Digital Engine Control) system. The previous versions of the Dash-8 series aircraft used less powerful PW120 engines. The PW150A are one of the most advanced turboprop engines made (claims made by year 2010 and the actual facts are subject to change). They are very simply constructed and have a relatively low parts count in order to reduce complexity as well as maintenance and running costs. A lower fuel consumption (20-40% less than rivaling engines) is achieved by using advanced materials and efficient cooling mechanisms of the engine reverse flow combustor and both the LPT (Low Pressure Turbine) and HPT (High Pressure Turbine). The PW150 engines on the Q400 drive six-bladed, all composite, reversible-pitch-propellers built by Dowty. The relatively large R408 (13 feet 6 inches long) advanced propellers are turned at speeds slower than on conventional turboprop engines, which results in less noise produced during their operation. The engines are mounted further out on the aircraft wing to reduce noise even more and the propeller blades are also fitted with de-icing systems. An interesting fact about the Dash 8 Q 400 is that the quietest place in the passenger cabin is actually between the two propellers.
(In this picture: Dash 8 turboprop)
The cockpit of the Dash 8 is designed for a two-crew operation accommodating the captain and the first officer. The Dash 8-Q400 has the most advanced flightdeck of all Dash 8 series turboprops. It is fitted with 5 large high-resolution LCD's (6x8 inches in size) relaying the information from the EFIS (Electronic Flight Instrument System). The reliable and lightweight avionics suite was manufactured by Thales Avionics and features such components as an Automatic Flight Control System, Autopilot with Flight Directors, Dual Air Data Computers, EFIS, Altitude and Heading Reference Systems + an ESID (Engine and Systems Integrated Display). Communication is managed by a dual VHF system and a Mode S Transponder.
(In this photo: Dash 8-Q400 cockpit)
Some other cockpit systems include primary standby instruments, AlliedSignal radio altimeter, ADF, DME, color weather radar (RDR-2000), GPWS, TCAS II, a solid state CVR, ELT, and a Centralized Maintenance and Diagnostic system to help both engineers and pilots resolve problems quickly and efficiently. A CAT III certified Head Up Guidance System (HGS) that shows the aircraft's actual approach path, is also an installable option on the Dash 8-Q400.
Dash 8 Passenger cabin:
The passenger cabin on the Dash 8 Q400 could be configured wither for a single or a two-class layout to accommodate 68-78 persons in a typical 2 by 2 seating arrangement. An all business class is also an option which was the case for the SAS commuter airplanes. Passengers can embark and disembark through 2 doors located in the forward and rear left side of the airplane. There are also 2 baggage compartments which can hold up to 14 cubic meters of baggage. For those airports with no or limited ground handling facilities, the Q400 is equipped with airstairs installed at the front cabin door.
(In this photo: Dash 8 passenger cabin)
The fuselage that is almost circular in cross-section is manufactured by the Mitsubishi company and has a maximum centerline width of 8 feet and 3 inches. The cabin is 61 feet long and 6 feet 5 inches high. The total volume of the Dash 8-Q400 cabin is around 2700 cubic feet (77 cubic meters). The aircraft tail section and the main fuselage are transported to Canada from overseas, where the final assembly of the cockpit and wings takes place at the de Havilland Canada manufacturing buildings.