The Twin Otter Lives!
Aero-News has learned Viking Air Limited -- which last year announced it was considering re-starting
production of the 19-passenger DHC-6 Twin Otter -- has
confirmed the program will proceed.
The company tells ANN it met its required goals: sufficient firm
orders, further investment in the company by its majority
shareholder Westerkirk Capital, approval by the company board of
directors, and the existence of a federal government program that
could provide repayable financial assistance for research and
development to update the Twin Otter design for operation in the
Viking president and CEO David Curtis said he was encouraged by
the recent announcement by the federal government of the Strategic
Aerospace and Defense Initiative (SADI) program. Curtis fully
expects the Viking Twin Otter program will meet the requirements
set out by Industry Canada, which will administer the SADI
Viking has also had positive discussions with Export Development
Canada (EDC), a federal government crown corporation which can
provide a number of financial services for purchasers of new Twin
Otters. EDC has expressed a desire to work with Viking and its
customers on this newly-launched program.
One of the lead orders, for five aircraft, was received from
Trans Maldavian Airlines (TMA). The airline currently operates 15
Twin Otters built by the original manufacturer, de Havilland
Canada. Loch Ard Otters, LLC, of Palm Beach, FL has also stepped up
for six aircraft firm plus six options. These aircraft will be
offered for lease to operators worldwide.
Other launch customers
include Air Seychelles for two airplanes, Air Moorea for two and
Zimex Aviation of Switzerland for one. Between them, these three
airlines currently operate more than 25 'heritage' Twin Otters.
Deliveries of new aircraft will commence within 24 months and
the anticipated production rate will ramp up to fulfill the demand
as necessary, according to Curtis. Production airplanes will be
built under a slightly-modified original type certificate.
The new aircraft, on wheels, and with a standard 19-seat
commuter interior and basic instrumentation, sells for US $3.2
million in 2006 dollars, adjusted to the consumer price index at
the time of delivery. Full de-ice, float, amphibious and ski
landing gear will be offered as aftermarket options. Operators will
also option exterior paint as well as avionics systems.
"Today marks a significant milestone for Viking and for the
Canadian aerospace industry," Curtis said. "With today's
announcement we become the country's only manufacturer of
certificated aircraft west of Ontario by returning to production,
after almost 19 years, the world's best-selling 19-passenger
aircraft, one that is respected worldwide for its capability,
reliability and safety. We are extremely proud of this moment, this
decision and this airplane."
TMA managing director Bram Stellar believes new-production Twin
Otters will allow his company to grow significantly. "Finding
airplanes is next to impossible, and often requires major
refurbishing or rebuilding," he said. "Our current fleet is
well-maintained but will benefit from the addition of new aircraft.
The Twin Otter Series 400 will be perfect for our routes."
Commenting on the move to purchase the new aircraft, Air
Seychelles' chairman and chief executive, Captain David Savy, says:
"We have been seeking the replacement of our Twin Otter DHC-6
Series 300 fleet for some time now and we were looking at an
aircraft which could meet the peculiarities of our demanding
domestic operations. We fly very short sectors, land on rugged,
short airstrips and operate in a saline, humid environment. This is
a very challenging environment for our technical and maintenance
"The current Twin Otter Series 300 aircraft is an ideal, robust
aircraft adapted to inter-island operations of Air Seychelles,"
Savy added. "We faced a lot of difficulty in finding a suitable
replacement to the Series 300. For some years now we have been
urging the manufacturers to re-commence production. Fortunately,
Viking Air has taken-up the challenge."
Loch Ard will be Viking's preferred leasing partner, providing
potential operators with an alternative to straight purchase. Loch
Ard is owned and managed by a team with extensive experience in
transportation asset financing and leasing.
The new Series 400 aircraft, based on the original 19-seat
Series 300, will have their major components built in Victoria with
aircraft assembly and customer delivery in Calgary, Alberta. It
will incorporate a number of improvements based on today's
available technologies. The original Pratt & Whitney Canada
PT6A-27 engines will be replaced by higher output PT6A-34 engines,
flat-rated for better performance in all flight regimes. PT6A-35
engines and four blade propellers will be offered as optional
Twin Otters are flown by such diverse operators as commuter
airlines, Antarctic and desert expeditions, inter-island and
coastal taxis, para-droppers, airborne research firms and corporate
Viking acquired the type certificate and production rights to
the Twin Otter from Bombardier Aerospace in early 2006. Viking owns
the Type Certificates for the de Havilland Canada DHC-1 Chipmunk,
DHC-2 Beaver, DHC-2T Turbo Beaver, DHC-3 Otter, DHC-4, Caribou,
DHC-5 Buffalo, DHC-6 Twin Otter and DHC-7 DASH 7 and has been
providing all product support functions for the fleet since May