LONDON — Bombardier obtained certification from Transport Canada to launch the new variant of the Dash 8 Q400, featuring a capacity for 90 passengers in one cabin.

The current Q400 carries up to 78 passengers, therefore representing an increase of 15% with the new proposed cabin layout.

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First Plane To SpiceJet This Year

Indian carrier SpiceJet is to be the launch customer of this higher-density variant, having ordered 25 planes in 2017.

The purchase agreement includes 25 Q400s with purchase rights for 25 additional aircraft, all of which will be fitted with 90 seats—instead of the 78 seat layout that the existing Q400s are equipped with.

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These turboprops will join a fleet of 20 Q400s and 34 Boeing 737-700/800/900 airliners. SpiceJet’s fleet averages 7.5 years of age.

The Indian airline has taken delivery of 15 brand-new Q400s since 2011, with the first one being delivered in August of that year.

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“Upon delivery later this year, our launch customer SpiceJet will become the first airline to take advantage of the profitable and efficient operations of the 90-seat Q400 aircraft following its order of up to 50 in 2017,” said Todd Young, Head of the Q Series Aircraft Program, Bombardier Commercial Aircraft.

More Orders Expected

Even though SpiceJet is the only customer of the 90-seat Q400, Bombardier claims that more orders might be coming in shortly as “several airlines” are interested in the product, said the manufacturer.

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Bombardier believes that this variant will benefit carriers through increased profitability with a decreased cost per seat metric.

“We are excited to offer our customers a higher-capacity configuration and 15% lower cost per seat compared to the previous standard Q400, leading to more profitability potential for airlines,” said Young.

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The new configuration is, in fact, another step in the manufacturer’s continuous improvement of its Q400 product, which will also feature a 2,000lb payload increase in capacity as well as an escalation of A-Check and C-Check intervals going from 600/6000 to 800/8000 flight hours.

“This milestone certification showcases—once again—the unique versatility of the Q400 turboprop and our continued commitment to the evolution of the program,” Young said.

Flybe Ditches E195, Endorses Q400

In May this year, UK regional carrier Flybe announced that its fleet will soon become all-Q400, phasing out its nine Embraer E195 by April 2020.

Flybe Bombardier Dash 8 Q400 G-JEDP seen departing runway 15 at Birmingham (EGBB, BHX). Picture: Thomas Saunders.

With such an endorsement from Flybe and a potential batch of new orders coming in soon, the Q400 product will continue to bring positive results for the Canadian planemaker.