flybyguy
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Why Is The DHC-8 So Popular In The Caribbean?

Sun Jun 27, 2004 1:18 pm

After a few years of Caribbean regional fleet observation it has occurred to me that many of the Caribbean based regionals (excluding American Eagle which is US based), LIAT, Caribbean Star, Bwee Express, and Air Jamaica Express have all conformed to the Bombardier
DASH 8 aircraft type. Why is this particular aircraft so popular? Why not Embraer, Saab, ATR, or Fokker turboprops?

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Bronko
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RE: Why Is The DHC-8 So Popular In The Caribbean?

Sun Jun 27, 2004 1:42 pm

I am guessing it is due to excellent short field performance, low costs, and it is designed for shortish frequent hops. The islands are fairly close together.
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ScooterTrash
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RE: Why Is The DHC-8 So Popular In The Caribbean?

Sun Jun 27, 2004 1:42 pm

Probably lots of reasons...

1. They are easy to acquire at fairly low cost
2. Ease of maintainance
3. Extremely dependable
4. Excellent short field performance
5. Fairly cheap to operate
6. They are more rugged than most airplanes. They can stand up to the abuse of many of the areas less than ideal runways.

Scooter
 
NEXtime
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RE: Why Is The DHC-8 So Popular In The Caribbean?

Mon Jun 28, 2004 1:14 am

I was in Antigua recently on holiday. Spent an afternoon at ANU watching the planes. Plenty of Dash 8's. I was given the opportunity to talk to a couple of maintenance guys at LIAT and asked the same question.
There were a couple of aircraft in the hangar undergoing maintenance, both series 100's, which are now being reduced in number by LIAT in favour of the larger 300's. Performance, cost of operation and the robust build of the Dash 8 are all major reasons for the popularity plus (according to the workers) the ease of maintenance on the aircraft.
Caribbean Star are also moving towards an all Series 300 fleet.

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GoAibusGo
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RE: Why Is The DHC-8 So Popular In The Caribbean?

Mon Jun 28, 2004 1:44 am

Don't forget that the ATR is also popular, with American Eagle, Air Caraibes, BonairExel and soon also ArubaExel. But yes right now the Dash is more popular and also better in my opinion (then the ATR). Air ALM and DCE also operated them until last year.


 
flybyguy
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RE: Why Is The DHC-8 So Popular In The Caribbean?

Mon Jun 28, 2004 2:21 am

Thanks for your informative answers. Its great speaking to people more knowledgeable in aviation than some of the people I hang out with daily.  Smile/happy/getting dizzy
"Are you a pretender... or a thoroughbred?!" - Professor Matt Miller
 
Olympus69
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RE: Why Is The DHC-8 So Popular In The Caribbean?

Mon Jun 28, 2004 3:03 am

A factor which certainly doesn't hurt its popularity is the remarkable safety record of the Dash 8. Correct me if I am wrong, but I believe there has only been one fatal accident in almost 20 years of service. Not bad for a worldwide fleet that now totals about 600 planes!
 
HlywdCatft
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RE: Why Is The DHC-8 So Popular In The Caribbean?

Mon Jun 28, 2004 6:28 am

Isn't the DHC-6 still popular in the Caribbean too? Seems like I see more pictures of DHC-6s in the Carribean than any other region of the world.
 
captaink
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RE: Why Is The DHC-8 So Popular In The Caribbean?

Mon Jun 28, 2004 6:40 am

Dash 6's are popular in some parts of the caribbean, usually in the Leeward Islands. Airlines like Winair still operate them. I live in Grenada, and all the regional carriers operate Dash 8's. THe 300 series is the most popular. I think the Dash 8 is a great aircraft, the pilots love them, they stand up to chaffing, the short islands hops (usually 20-30 minutes between islands), some airports with short runways (St Vincent, St Lucia's Charles, Dominica). American Eagle does operate the ATR to these places though, but their flights are longer as they originate in SJU.
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ScooterTrash
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RE: Why Is The DHC-8 So Popular In The Caribbean?

Mon Jun 28, 2004 6:57 am

GoAirbusGo is correct about the ATR family of turboprops, they have been used by Eagle in the Islands for years. I have had the pleasure of flying both the ATR42 and 72 as well as every version of the Dash 8 except the Q400. I have few complaints about any of the airplanes.

The ATR enjoys an important advantage versus the Dashes pertaining to Eagle's operation: Range. The Dash 8-100/200/300 carries only 5678 pounds of fuel, which is not a whole lot. The ATR 72 on the other hand carries over 11,000 pounds which puts every island in range of SJU. The ATR also has a greater cargo capacity, although I do not know is freight is a big part of Eagle's operation in the Caribbean.

The Dash's runway performance and lifting capacity out of short/hot/high runways way outclasses the ATR's. In addition, it is more dependable maintainance-wise. These are probably some of the considerations that effect the decision to operate the Dash over the ATR.

Scooter
 
captaink
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RE: Why Is The DHC-8 So Popular In The Caribbean?

Mon Jun 28, 2004 7:04 am

Scootertrash, is very correct about the ATR's range, hence the aircraft choice for eagle. The Dash 8 would not have done well in Eagle's market. I must say that some of Eagle's flights eg. SJU-GND and POS, are in excess of 2.5 hours. It is a long and uncomfortable flight, being in such a noisy turboprop. I am not sure I would want to do the flight in the Dash 8 either. 30 mins to and hour is about my limit in a prop.

Eagle does have problems with baggage in peak seasons. The flights are at max capacity in terms of passengers, and that means by far all the bags cannot follow. Most of the passengers are connecting from international AA flgihts, so at least 2 pieces at 60lbs each. Out of Grenada, the passengers are limited to a max of 70lbs each even though they are connecting on AA.

I guess as they say, you win some you loose some. Both aircraft types does fit its own niche.
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ScooterTrash
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RE: Why Is The DHC-8 So Popular In The Caribbean?

Mon Jun 28, 2004 7:08 am


It is a long and uncomfortable flight, being in such a noisy turboprop. I am not sure I would want to do the flight in the Dash 8 either. 30 mins to and hour is about my limit in a prop.


The Dash, especially the Q200/Q300 is plenty quieter than the ATR. I was surprised by that when I first started flying the airplane.

Scooter
 
BWIA 772
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RE: Why Is The DHC-8 So Popular In The Caribbean?

Mon Jun 28, 2004 11:01 am

LIAT was interested in the Q400 especially for its Guyana flights. The Dash8s are cool but like Captaink an hour flight is the limit for me.
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VSXA380X800
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RE: Why Is The DHC-8 So Popular In The Caribbean?

Mon Jun 28, 2004 11:18 am

Most operators in the Caribbean with the DHC-8 are most likely lost cost airlines( correct me if I'm wrong) And wouldn't the DHC-6-8 make sense to hop a cross islands and go where larger airliners cant go to. Well the noise seem to bother some of the passengers.

The DHC-8 I haven't really noticed when I visited Jamaica. I seen a lot of Air Jamaica A300/10s and AA A300s in Kingston.
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LimaFoxTango
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RE: Why Is The DHC-8 So Popular In The Caribbean?

Mon Jun 28, 2004 12:19 pm

plus the dash 8 is one great looking aircraft. both LIAT and Caribbean Star are interested in the Q400 but LIAT is not financially capable of getting one anytime soon. Star on the other hand may get a few soon. i predict within the next 3-5 years.
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ScooterTrash
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RE: Why Is The DHC-8 So Popular In The Caribbean?

Mon Jun 28, 2004 1:11 pm

DHC-8-Q400s are pretty cheap now... Bombardier is offering some sweetheart deals just to keep the production line open.

Scooter
 
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Francoflier
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RE: Why Is The DHC-8 So Popular In The Caribbean?

Mon Jun 28, 2004 1:14 pm

Bahamas Air also flies the DHC-8-300.
West Point Airlines, a Canadian airline, also operates a couple of Dash 8's out of Nassau and Santiago/Port au Prince on regular and charter flights...

That was just to complete the list...
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jwenting
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RE: Why Is The DHC-8 So Popular In The Caribbean?

Mon Jun 28, 2004 1:31 pm

You are incorrect VSX. Most flights are the only airline those islands ever see (especially the smaller ones) and while maybe cheaper than a similar length flight would be in the USA or especially Europe that's mostly because the average income in the area is lower so most people living there would be unable to afford those higher fares.

They are in fact regular airlines flying them, not regionals or subsidiairies like in the US and Europe.
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captaink
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RE: Why Is The DHC-8 So Popular In The Caribbean?

Mon Jun 28, 2004 1:34 pm

VSXA380X800, I wouldn't really consider the airlines in the caribbean to be LCC, as we know the term. They are just small, regional carriers. But the Dash 8's serve them well with the routes they fly. Other aircraft type simply may not work, at least not without additional cost. One carrier, Carib Express tried the caribbean thing with BAE146's and didn't last too long at all.

You wouldn't find LIAT or Caribbean Star in Jamaica. These carriers serve the Lesser Antilles, with LIAT reaching as far as SJU, and both carriers getting as far south as GEO. In Jamaica however, would find Air Jamaica Express and they do fly a couple Dash 8's.

JM does not operate the A300/310 anymore, but quite a few A320's and A321's. YOu would see these birds in number of islands in the Lesser Antilles. You would also see BW's 737's and even the A340 in some islands too. But for Point to Point, island hopping you are going to see the Dash 8.

A good example of a Dash 8's morning is Caribbean Star's flight that originate in POS, continues on to GND, SVD, SLU, ANU, SKB, SXM and EIS. If you are orginating in POS and heading for EIS, you have long day of 30 minute flights ahead of you.
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VSXA380X800
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RE: Why Is The DHC-8 So Popular In The Caribbean?

Tue Jun 29, 2004 2:37 am

Yea its kind of sad Air Jamaica retired the aircraft. I think Air Jamaica only operated the A310 and AA operated the A300's.

Jwenting
So what airline that operate the Dash-8 that services the Europe and/Or the US, that are regular airlines ?
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MEA-707
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RE: Why Is The DHC-8 So Popular In The Caribbean?

Tue Jun 29, 2004 3:04 am

Olympus69> The Dash-8 is indeed safe, I guess the total fleet made about 10 million cycles by now, and only 3 fatal accidents of which at two most on board survived; Ansett New Zealand in 1995 at Palmsterston, and Lufthansa Cityline in 1993 at Paris.
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. Only one accident where all on board where killed, Bangkok Airways at Koh Samui in 1990. All three accidents were approach/bad weather related, so not to do with the design.
But most modern aircraft in its class are pretty safe, the Fokker 50 and Saabs also had very few crashes. The ATR slightly more but still acceptible.
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RayChuang
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RE: Why Is The DHC-8 So Popular In The Caribbean?

Tue Jun 29, 2004 10:23 pm

I think in general the DHC-8 and the ATR's are popular in the Caribbean because both planes can handle the shorter runways of the Caribbean islands easily.

By the way, I remember BAE seriously studied the idea of an improved BAe 146 powered by two more powerful engines instead of four. It they had gotten serious airline interest in this proposed BAe 146 variant I would not be surprised that the American Eagle operation based out of SJU would have ordered the plane.
 
T prop
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RE: Why Is The DHC-8 So Popular In The Caribbean?

Wed Jun 30, 2004 12:38 am

Olympus69> The Dash-8 is indeed safe, I guess the total fleet made about 10 million cycles by now

Over 16 million as of 12/2003.

T prop.
 
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yyz717
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RE: Why Is The DHC-8 So Popular In The Caribbean?

Wed Jun 30, 2004 12:49 am

There is a cultural factor also. Canada has strong ties with all Commonwealth nations in the Caribbean. This adds more relationship relevance than you know, even for aircraft salesmen.

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trintocan
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RE: Why Is The DHC-8 So Popular In The Caribbean?

Wed Jun 30, 2004 6:59 am

Yes, the Dash 8 is king of the Caribbean skies. One more carrier to mention in the list is Tobago Express, which flies between POS and TAB. As for Air Jamaica Express, its Dash 8 flights operate mainly from Tinson Pen Aerodrome rather than Norman Manley International for Kingston because the former is far more centrally located.

I have flown on both Dash 8 100 and 300 (LI, BW and Tobago Express) and ATR42 (6G, Air Wales). Yes, the ATR is far louder and the Dash 8 Q series are quieter even if they lack the range of the European planes. Those De Havilland / Bombardier planes have certainly served LI very well and it appears as if their success with them led to the others opting to buy the type.

TrintoCan.

ps Surinam Airways used to fly the type too.
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captaink
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RE: Why Is The DHC-8 So Popular In The Caribbean?

Wed Jun 30, 2004 11:28 am

VSXA380X800, just a side note, JM did operate the A300 aircraft as well


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