Big Red Airplane

De Havilland Canada DHC-8-102 Dash 8 | Photo: Hoice

Welcome to the Vancouver Lexicon. Its purpose is to pin down the patois of the City of Vancouver by recording its toponyms, nicknames, slang terms, personalities, places, and other Van-centric things. Full A-Z here.

Big Red Airplane | transportation, environment | Technically a De Havilland Dash 8, this striking aircraft travels our coastline six days a week on pollution detection patrol, looking for oil spills while also monitoring endangered whale activity as part of Transport Canada’s National Aerial Surveillance Program. Often the harmless turboprop (the same model flown by Westjet Encore) can be seen circling very low around Vancouver and the Fraser River, spooking some residents. According to a 2018 CBC article, the big red airplane has been specifically “modified to fly slow and bank at a 45-degree angle — manoeuvrability that is needed to spot pollution.”

Usage: “What’s the deal with the big red airplane that’s been buzzing Vancouver’s high-rises for the past hour?”

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