Viking Air chooses Apex for Twin Otter 400

 - April 1, 2008, 6:38 AM

After a nine-month selection process, the company that plans to bring the Twin Otter back into production has chosen Honeywell’s Primus Apex integrated flight deck for new-build airplanes expected to enter service next year. Honeywell describes the equipment as an “intuitive alternative for turboprops and light and midsize business jets.” The avionics have also been chosen for the Pilatus PC-12 and Grob SPn.

Apex comprises a base system with optional functions that include integrated autothrottle and graphical flight displays. Basic installations typically include two primary flight displays and two multifunction units, with integrated systems, sensor and navigation information said to decrease pilot workload and improve safety.

British Columbia-based Viking Air owns the Twin Otter type certificate. The company’s flight-safety manager, Michael Moore, noted that the system’s vertical terrain display and regular two-dimensional flight information enhances crew situational awareness. Apex also can provide other functions such as constant fuel-level indication, trim position and engine information.

The Honeywell avionics suite will contribute to the new model’s planned lower weight (compared with previous Bombardier-built Twin Otters, of which production ceased 20 years ago). In addition to lighter avionics, Viking is incorporating new cabin interior materials, and more-modern electrics and engines.

The Twin Otter series 400 will have direct-current (DC) electrics only, replacing earlier models’ alternating-current (AC) equipment used for gyroscopic instruments and some engine-related and fuel-measuring gauges. “All now are DC, which is lighter and simpler,” Moore told AIN. Viking hopes it can delete the previous incandescent light bulbs and in last month was awaiting approval LED alternatives for systems such as landing lights.

The company hopes to achieve “power on,” including the avionics system, with the first “hand-built” technical demonstrator next month, followed by initial engine ground-running in July, ahead of an expected first flight later in the third quarter of the year, according to Moore. Delivery of the first new-production aircraft, earmarked for Zimex Aviation in Switzerland, is planned for early next year.

Viking expects to deliver up to 18 aircraft a year–compared with the 40-plus achieved during the original design’s heyday in the late 1960s through the 1970s. Initial production covering more than 50 aircraft is sold out to 2012.