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History of de Havilland Aircraft
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Thousands of de Havilland Canada aircraft remain in active use around the world.

These DHC aircraft are sought after for the hardest jobs in the toughest places. They never fail to live up to their reputation for versatility & dependability.

After more than 75 years and some 3,500 aircraft later, de Havilland Canada stands proudly as a symbol of Canadian achievement.

DHC Moth

History of de Havilland


On March 5, 1928 the de Havilland Company of England incorporated a subsidiary company in Canada.. Over the coming years, this small upstart would become one of the most accomplished aircraft designers and manufacturers in Canadian history. The only aircraft manufacturer in Toronto at the time, de Havilland Canada or D-H-C produced Moth aircraft for the Royal Canadian Air Force until they were called on to contribute to the war efforts in 1944.

chipmunkThe Chipmunk – an all-metal trainer developed for the Air Force – was the first all-Canadian design to come out of de Havilland Canada, and helped establish the young company as a leader in the North American aviation industry.


In the 1930’s, the introduction of the bus-plane played a major role in opening up the vast Canadian wilderness. But by the mid1940’s, it became clear that a more durable design was needed. In response, de Havilland Canada began work on what would become what many believe to be the best bush aircraft ever built: the DHC-2 Beaver.

DHC-2 BeaverAfter years of research and development, on a hazy afternoon in August 1947, chief test pilot Russ Bannock lifted off from Downsvew airfield in the prototype Beaver and roared into the Ontario sky. On that day, a Canadian legend was born. With the success of the Beaver, de Havilland quickly earned recognition for designing some of the world’s best Short Take Off and Landing aircraft.

D-H-C aircraft soon caught the eye of the U.S. military, which in the years to come would become the company’s best customer. Until de Havilland Canada, the United States had never purchased aircraft from a foreign company.


DHC-3 Otter

In 1951, de Havilland rolled out the D-H-C-3 Otter. Slightly larger than the Beaver, it carried twice the payload and increased the range for operators in the Canadian North and other remote regions of the world.


DHC-6 Twin Otter1966 saw the introduction of the Twin Otter. Originally designed as a utility bush airplane for the Canadian North, it found its true niche with developing commuter airlines.

In all, more than 800 were built, and today the Twin Otter is regarded as one of Canada’s most successful commercial aircraft. In fact, the Twin Otter is the largest-selling 19-passenger commuter airplane in the world, and was instrumental in developing the regional airline industry as we know it today.


DHC-7 Dash 7In 1973 de Havilland brought their Short Take Off and Landing design to the commuter airline market with the Dash 7 program. The Dash 7 proved useful for airlines operating out of smaller airports with challenging terrain