Custom cargo door on Air Inuit Dash8 is aviation first

by Emily Atkins

The world’s first Dash8-300 aircraft equipped with a large freighter door has joined the Air Inuit fleet.

Dash8 large cargo door
The door is large enough to accommodate bulky and palletized cargo.

Following more than 36 months of planning, design, retrofitting and safety testing, the custom-modified aircraft received its Supplemental Type Certificate from Transport Canada on February 3, 2022.

Equipping a Dash8-300 with a custom-built large freighter door is a world’s first, and will help Air Inuit provides essential services in Canada’s north. The door will facilitate the use of pallets for moving food and other goods, and loading and unloading times can be shortened to reduce the risk of damage to fragile cargo such as fresh fruits and vegetables.

The Dash8 300 has a cargo capacity of 19,500 kg and a range of 1,550 km. The new door has a clear opening that is 274 cm by 173 cm.

Unique challenges

Air Inuit delivers essential goods and oversized materials to 14 communities in Northern Quebec. It carries essential itemsĀ  ranging from food to indispensable tools such as ATVs and snowmobiles.

“The introduction of this innovative design to Air Inuit’s fleet is about more than the convenience and reliability the people of Nunavik have come to expect,” said Christian Busch, president and CEO of Air Inuit.

“It is about recognizing the specific challenges of the communities we serve, and finding an innovative new way to support the development of those communities. Hats off to our team and partners for achieving this.”

Air Inuit serves 14 fly-in communities in Northern Quebec.

Air Inuit selected the Canadian-made Dash8-300 because it represents the intersection between capacity and adaptability. Well-suited for locations that often have short gravel runways, the Dash8-300 has also proven itself in the challenging weather conditions of Nunavik. This one-of-a-kind addition helps Air Inuit fulfill its mission to serve and develop communities across Nunavik and beyond.

Helping the environment

The development of Air Inuit’s first large freighter door Dash8-300 was made possible in part thanks to an important contribution from the Quebec Government’s Fonds Vert. It means using a more energy-efficient Dash8-300 in place of other aging cargo planes such as the HS-748, which used 30 percent more fuel and was retired several years ago from Air Inuit’s fleet.