Here is a trip review of my May 22 Alaska Airlines flight from Portland International Airport (PDX) to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA). I decided to take a flight with a De Havilland of Canada Dash 8-400. Although the aircraft was once known as the Bombardier Q400 when manufactured by the Canadian corporation Bombardier, the shorthand will be Dash 8-400 as the aircraft is now a De Havilland of Canada product.
Why fly a Dash 8-400 and not the ERJ-175?
With the end of the Dash 8-400 in Alaska Airlines service near, I felt obliged to ride on one of the last commercial turboprops in US airline service coming home from an airshow. There is something to be said about two 13.5ft/4.1m Dowty R408 propellers attached to turboprops taking you home old school versus flying a modern jet.
The De Havilland of Canada Dash 8-400 is a comfy tube with 8.85 feet/2.7 meters of fuselage diameter meant to carry 76 passengers in single-class seating efficiently. It’s an evolution from the Douglas DC-3 with the 3-bladed Hamilton Standard 23E50 series 11 ft, 6 in propellers, radial engines, and 21-32 passenger capacity.
According to ch-aviation.com, the Dash 8-400 I flew on – N444QX – was delivered on June 13, 2011, and has a market value of $6,410,000.
Airline: Alaska Airlines
Aircraft: De Havilland Canada Dash 8-400 (aka Q400) N444QX
From: Portland International Airport (PDX)
To: Seattle-Tacoma International (SEA)
Date: 22 May 2022
Flight Time (Gate to Gate): 00:33
Unique boarding and deplaning
The Dash 8-400 is used by Alaska Airlines and its wholly-owned subsidiary Horizon Airlines in a way that requires boarding and deplaning in the elements. So you get your boarding pass scanned and then walk down a jetway to a door outside to experience the fresh air of the apron on the way to your aircraft.
With the Dash 8-400’s limited space for carry-on luggage, guests were encouraged to use the a-la-cart service as pictured in a previous section. This is where one could place their larger carry-ons, and the baggage handlers would put the bags in the hold for you at no additional charge. Once landed and at the gate, one can deplane and retrieve their luggage at the arrival airport’s a la cart or jet bridge within a few minutes. Nonetheless, on my flight, some passengers chose to use the overhead bins for the 33-minute flight for their smaller luggage.
I sincerely appreciated the chance to take a few photos of the cockpit. As you can see, the Dash 8-400 cockpit is very modern.
Strapping in and taking off
It was nice to sit down and enjoy the decent legroom plus high-quality leather. I could put on the lap belt and relax before take-off. We taxied out and had a thrilling take-off. From my 20A seat, I got to see the gear retract while having enough legroom to stash my camera bag under my legs.
Comparing Dash 8-400 altitude and speed with the ERJ-175LR replacement
I reviewed FlightRadar24.com to compare the aircraft types for most of these statistics, but for the Mach number I used the NASA Mach calculator. The highest my flight got was 14,000 feet according to GPS altitude with a top speed of 384 mph (Mach 0.530). Alternatively, an Alaska Airlines Embraer 175LR flew the route that same day on Alaska Flight AS2145 with a highest GPS altitude of 20,000 feet and a top speed of 442 mph (Mach 0.625). The overall ERJ-175LR flight that day took 28 minutes, five minutes less than the Dash 8-400’s time.
Good views and a safe landing
My fellow passengers and I were treated to free nonalcoholic drinks, even though we were asked to remain seated the entire 33-minute flight. The lineup for landing at Seattle-Tacoma included a decent bank and a smooth final approach to Seattle-Tacoma International (SEA). As you can see above, I luckily was able to get a photo of the moment after the Dash 8-400’s tires touched the runway. We then were able to deplane and, seated in the last row, I was happily last to deplane. When I deplaned, I noticed the Dash 8-400 was already on the clock to go to Redmond, Oregon, as pictured.
Twilight of the Dash 8-400
Is the end nearing for the de Haviland Dash 8-400?
Photo: Joe Kunzler | Simple Flying
Production of the Dash 8-400 after over 1,200 examples is intermittent by de Havilland of Canada due to reduced demand and a desire to move manufacturing to Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Second, the Dash 8-400 will be retired from Alaska Airlines service by the end of 2023, with 32 aircraft left in the fleet currently. As Senior Vice President – Fleet, Finance and Alliances & Treasurer for Alaska Air Group Nathaniel Pieper explained in a March 24, 2022 earnings call, Alaska Airlines is seeking to replace single-class Dash 8-400s with multiple-class Embraer E175 regional jets to allow Alaska Airlines to “capture that revenue” from “premium leisure” multi-class seating.
Will you take a Dash 8-400 flight before Alaska Airlines releases its airframes? Let us know with civility in the comments.
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