Island Air announced today that it has accepted delivery of the first of three Q400 turboprops from Bombardier Commercial Aircraft. The new aircraft, the first to be added to Island Air's fleet since the company was acquired by local Hawai'i investment firm PacifiCap last January, is part of its long-term strategic plan for growth and expansion in Hawai'i's interisland travel industry. The new aircraft is expected to arrive in Honolulu by the end of the month.
"As we look to expand our regional route network and connect local residents and visitors across the Islands, the reliable, operationally flexible and cost-efficient Q400 turboprop is the perfect choice to take our airline to the next level," said David Uchiyama, president and chief executive officer, Island Air. "Additionally, the comprehensive support from Bombardier in acquiring the aircraft and integrating them into our network reconfirms our decision to utilize this superior product for our fleet renewal and expansion strategy."
The aircraft are being leased through leasing company Elix Aviation Capital Limited ("Elix"). The agreement includes three Q400 aircraft. The second Q400 is scheduled to arrive in the first quarter of 2017, and the third is expected to be delivered in April. Also in this agreement is an option for two more new aircraft. The airline plans to convert to a full fleet of new Q400s and transition its existing fleet of five ATR-72 aircraft out of service.
The Q400, which was built at Bombardier's Toronto, Ontario facility, has a seating capacity of 78 passengers. The aircraft has a maximum cruise speed of 414 miles per hour and a maximum operating altitude of 27,000 feet.
The Q400 is 30 percent faster than conventional turboprops and features a new, advance noise reduction and vibration suppression system to allow passengers to enjoy a quieter, smoother cabin experience. The new aircraft also burns 30 percent less fuel and produces 30 percent lower emissions on short-haul routes, making it more environmentally friendly compared to other aircraft currently serving the Hawai'i market. In addition, its noise footprint is two-and-a-half times smaller, which will be less disruptive to the community as it flies overhead.
Island Air pilots have been undergoing a two-month training program to become certified to fly the Q400s. The training process included ground school as well as simulator training conducted in Seattle, Washington. The pilots will now have the opportunity to undergo flight training on the new aircraft. Other employees including flight attendants and the ground operational team members will also go through training with oversight by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to ensure all operational procedures are in accordance with the FAA.
Island Air will host a formal blessing and naming ceremony for the first new aircraft in January prior to the Q400's inaugural flight.