Today In Aviation History – 1986 – Boeing Purchases de Havilland Aircraft of Canada

aviation history

On this day in 1986 de Havilland Aircraft of Canada was sold to Boeing Commercial Aircraft Company of Seattle, Wash, for $155 million, and renamed the “Boeing Canada, de Havilland Division”. De Havilland was Toronto’s largest industrial employer with almost 5,000 employees, and one of the biggest companies in Canada’s aerospace industry.

Boeing bought the company in an effort to better position itself to compete for a new Air Canada order for large intercontinental airliners. The contract was eventually won by Airbus, which received an order for 34 A330 and A340 aircraft. This highly controversial move came amid allegations of bribery. Following the failure in the competition, Boeing put de Havilland Canada up for sale.

Boeing’s ownership of De Havilland Canada (DHC) in the 1980s was disastrous. Even with a full order book, DHC was consistently unable to turn a profit. Boeing said in 1989 that it would sell the unprofitable de Havilland unit. In June 1991 the Canadian Government rejected a proposal by a French-Italian consortium to buy the de Havilland division of Boeing of Canada. Michael H. Wilson, Canada’s trade minister, said he was not satisfied that the bid by Aerospatiale S.A. of France and Alenia S.p.A. of Italy would benefit Canada. The companies said they want the Government to contribute $500 million (Canadian), or $440 million (United States), over 10 years for research and development.

In 1992, Bombardier and the Ontario government purchased the company from Boeing. It was finally sold to Bombardier Inc. as part of Bombardier Aerospace Group in 1992 and since known as de Havilland Inc. The Avions de Transport Regional venture had bid to acquire de Havilland, but was rejected by the European Commission. British Aerospace had also expressed an interest in bidding for the division.