Last year’s announcement by Viking Air (Hall 4 Stand C14B) of its plans to launch its new DHC-6 Twin Otter Series 400 into production triggered an immediate response from operators of older models and potential new customers from around the world.
The de Havilland Canada Twin Otter was first introduced to the aviation market in 1966 and within nearly 20 years, some 844 models had been built. More than 600 remain in operation today.
Having acquired the type certificates of the de Havilland Canada model range from the DHC-1 through DHC-7, Viking quickly became established as a reliable source for spares but soon became aware of the demand for used Twin Otters. That encouraged the company to re-launch production of the 19-seat STOL aircraft after securing sufficient investment and customer orders. But the Series 400 aircraft would not be an exact replica of the 1960s design, as Viking took the opportunity to develop a lighter, modernized version of its predecessor.
Viking has evaluated each component of the aircraft and where appropriate it has used lighter, composite materials while taking care not to compromise the integrity of design and function. Consequently, the cockpit doors and multiple fairings, together with emergency exit doors and the nose baggage department are to be made of composites, while a carbon fiber airstair door will be tough enough to cope with daily wear and tear.
Integrated systems technology in the form of a Honeywell Primus Apex Avionics suite features LCD displays and is easily upgradable for future navigation requirements and safety options such as synthetic view. The Series 400 will be powered by Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-34 engines, with the -35 available as an option for use in hot and high environments.
Flight trials of the “new” Twin Otter will begin soon and customer deliveries commence next year, with commitments around the world to countries including Australia, French Polynesia, Republic of Maldives, Malta, Seychelles, Switzerland, the UAE and the United States. The U.S. Army has ordered three Series 400s for use by the Golden Knights parachute team, which will replace two Series 300 Twin Otters and a Pilatus Porter.
Viking Air holds orders and options for more than 40 aircraft and its market forecasts indicate a demand for 400 Twin Otters within ten years.