Air Inuit re-engineered an expanded cargo door on one of its Dash 8-300 aircraft to allow the plane to carry larger cargo, such as snowmobiles and ATVs. (Photo courtesy of CNW Group/Air Inuit)

Air Inuit unveils innovative cargo door expansion on Dash 8-300

Larger door will allow for easier delivery of large goods, airline CEO says

By David Lochead

Air Inuit is hailing a retrofit of one of its planes as a “world’s first in aviation” that will make it easier for the company to deliver large items such as snowmobiles and ATVs to people across Nunavik.

The innovation sprang from necessity, explained Christian Busch, president and CEO of the airline.

Popular on-the-land vehicles are growing in size, and it was coming to the point where no planes in Air Inuit’s fleet had doors big enough to handle their delivery. Short, gravel runways in Nunavik’s communities limited the company’s options for buying a bigger plane.

So, said Busch, his team asked themselves, why not cut a bigger door in one of the company’s Dash 8-300’s?

The airline teamed up with engineering firm Rockwell Collins in 2016, and got to work.

“It’s a great project,” he said, adding that doing the actual cutting for the expansion of the door was the most stressful part. If there was a mistake, it could not be easily fixed.

“Once that was done … it was a bit more relaxing,” said Busch.

The team also had to make sure the new door would keep correct pressure in the plane, as well as remodel the interior.

In the end, the renovation cost $5 million and created a door 274 centimetres long and 173 centimetres high, which is about the size of a sedan.

Transport Canada approved the plane for flight on Feb. 3.

The door isn’t just good for moving vehicles, says Busch. It also allows Air Inuit to use pallets for carrying goods so that sensitive items, like fresh fruit, can be better handled.

The Quebec Government contributed money to the project as well through its Fonds Vert program, a program that finances projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, because the Dash 8-300 creates 30 per cent less fuel emissions than Air Inuit’s older planes.

Air Inuit is already planning to start work on retrofitting a second Dash 8-300 with a large freight door in the coming months, Busch said.

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(12) Comments:

  1. Posted by Excellent News ! on

    This is a great news ! Can you please find out the single largest cargo size (dimensions & weigth) you can now fit in the Dash 8-300 with that new door and witdth of the plane ? Even if the door is 274 cm long, you can surely fit longer crate if you enter it sideways and turn it as you move it in. As the other option are limited to send large cargo north, this is definitely awesome for all Nunavut and Nunavik !

  2. Posted by tuktuborel on

    Wow great idea and great planning for future use.

    Nunavut carriers please pay attention as this is needed there also.

    • Posted by Avia Guy on

      If they started putting these on all cargo aircraft then price of cargo would go up and then people would complain about the rise in cargo and ticket prices.

      It is not cheap to put these larger cargo doors on an aircraft and not all aircrafts in their fleets can take modifications like this.

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  3. Posted by Featuring new methods; advanced and original. on

    I think calling this innovative is more than a stretch. It’s a door, but bigger than the previous door.

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    • Posted by Transport Canada on

      It all depends the way you see it. Enlarging your garage door is definitely not innovative, but deciding to go ahead with all the necessary steps of approval with Transportation Canada, including all engineering design it takes to modify an existing plane structure to fit such large door (picture shoes it takes almost half of the plane tail), you must really know what you are doing. As per the article, they worked with Rockwell Collins and even if it looks expensive, $5 million is not that bad since the same work of an identical Dash 8-300 should be much cheaper now that they have all the drawings and paperwork done for one plane.

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      • Posted by Look at all them rivets! on

        after reading your comment I went up and looked at the picture of the door again. Look at all the rivets around the door. That’s a LOT of work, testing, certification and etc. Innovative truly is the word when it comes to changes like this to existing airframes.

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  4. Posted by Immuk on

    Calm air and first air should do the same with their ATR42 and ATR72 planes along with Northstar NWC aircrafts ?

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    • Posted by Avia Guy on

      Ok again like I commented before.
      #1 not all aircrafts in the fleet can take this modification.
      #2 everyone would complain because it would drive the cost up for cargo and tickets (it costs alot of money to do this type of modification so the cost needs to be recouped from some where).
      Putting a larger cargo door on a 42 is pointless, if you haven’t noticed but you can already put a skidoo or atv if you have the right equipment.

      This article just shows what flex the company has (they got alot of money).

      Dash-8’s already had a door large enough to accommodate a skidoo or atv to begin with.

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      • Posted by Skidoo flown out for warranty. on

        Can confirm, Snowmobiles fit in Nunavut’s current fleet. Don’t let the companies here jerk you around if your vehicle is under warranty.

        • Posted by Not only skidoo and ATV on

          We did have a large genset radiator coil to send north in emergency last fall. Not really heavy. but the package was big since the coil fins had to be proctected in an oversized wood crate. It made it to Iqaluit no problem on the 737, but after that, we were stock as it didn’t fit in any cargo door of the planes flying to the communities. The only option was to charter Ken Borek DC3 out of Yellowknife at $$$$$$. Luckily, the DC3 had to make a trip to Iqaluit and brought our part on its way back to Yellowknife. Well, our package would have easily fit in this new larger door and having that option is truly a good news if you have something oversize that can’t wait for the sealift. Even if it’s expensive, the consequence of not getting the part is often many times more expensive.

  5. Posted by GALORE $$$$$$$$$$ on

    Imagining how much it costs just to send a box of gifts $$$$
    Now imagine shipping a honda or ski-doo $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$
    Just saying…

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  6. Posted by B4&After on

    A before and after shot would be nice just to see the difference. I am proud of this innovation by our airline.

    For the person concerned about the cargo prices increasing… why worry about that? Like one of the commenters before said, when something cannot wait until sealift then money is usually no concern… just get it there asap.

    Also… do Air Inuit and the engineering firm get proprietary rights for this? How does it work?

    🙂

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