1/31/1986: Boeing Finalizes Purchase of De Havilland Canada

On this day in 1986, the Boeing Company completed the purchase of Canadian aircraft manufacturer De Havilland Canada.



January 31, 2024

DALLAS — Today, in 1986, the Boeing Company completed the purchase of Canadian aircraft manufacturer De Havilland Canada (DHC).

The Canadian manufacturer was established in 1928 as a subsidiary of the then-eight-year-old British manufacturer of the same name. DHC would eventually be incorporated into the Bombardier group of companies 64 years later.

The company's Dash 8-400 is currently considered the most productive turboprop on the market. The type is known as the "network builder" due to its short take-off and landing capabilities and efficient regional operations.

The early DHC factory. Photo: de Havilland Canada

Building for the Canadian Market

After World War II, DHC began to create its aircraft exclusively for the Canadian market. These included the DHC-2 Beaver and DHC-3 Otter, with short take-off and landing (STOL) capabilities on both land and water. The DHC-6 'Twin Otter' is one of the country's most successful commercial aircraft. DHC built over 800 of the type between 1965 and 1988. The series 400 remains in production today. Later came the DHC-7 and DHC-8.

In 1874, the Canadian government purchased the planemaker and invested a large amount of money. However, DHC continued to lose money and announced they would be privatizing the company. It was later revealed that it would sell its product range and aircraft factories to Boeing for US$130 million.

Boeing announced it would make significant investments in DHC. This would allow for ongoing product development and the modernization of its manufacturing facilities. The Seattle-based aerospace manufacturer also guaranteed the Canadian government that they would not end the production of any models from the portfolio.

Flybe (BE) was once the world's largest operator of the Dash 8-Q400. Photo: Alberto Cucini/Airways

Boeing Backtracks

However, shortly after the purchase, Boeing announced they would close down the Twin Otter and DHC-7 lines.

Profits that Boeing had hoped would be generated from DHC failed to materialize. In July 1990, Boeing announced they would again put the company up for sale. In 1991, Montreal-based Bombardier Aerospace announced they would purchase DHC for US$260 million. Bombardier would complete the purchase the following year.

Horizon Air (QX) was the North American launch customer for the Dash 8-Q400 in 2001. It retired the type from services on January 26, 2023, and Airways' Brandon Farris was onboard to document this end of an era.

Featured Image: The Dash 8-Q400 is one of the world's most popular turboprops. Photo: Brandon Siska/Airways