The many lives of the venerable, hardworking Twin Otter would make a cat envious, and here at NBAA (Booth No. C7613) Ikhana Aircraft Services is featuring the twin-turboprop in its latest “re-life” as the Twin Otter X2.
Canada’s de Havilland introduced the original twin-engine multi-role airplane was introduced in 1965 and first deliveries followed in 1966. Since then more than 850 have gone into service, flying for more than 175 airlines in more than 60 countries; most of them on wheels but quite a few on floats and some on skis. They have flown everywhere, from the freezing stretches of Antarctica to the thin air of Nepal, and have been employed in most of the world’s military services in one form or another.
Ikhana figures that total puts the current aircraft market eligible for the X2 conversion at something more than 500 airplanes still in service in the legacy fleet; many of them with fuselages and wing boxes that are timing out in terms of hours and/or cycles. The original Twin Otter 100, 200 and 300 models produced from 1965 to 1988 have a structural fatigue life of 66,000 flight hours and 132,000 cycles for the fuselage and flight controls. (The Twin Otter Series 400 is back in production by current type certificate holder Viking Air.)
But Ikhana is not merely in the business of extending the airworthiness of those Twin Otters, said director of sales and marketing Bo Alksninis. “It’s a re-life program.”
Alksninis said the total upgrade by Ikhana doubles the life of the original airplane, and it can include work on the fuselage, wing and wing box, flight controls and electrical harness, as well as replacement of critical parts. The company has delivered more than 100 X2 wing box shipsets. “We just delivered a Twin Otter 200 with a gross weight upgrade to 12,500 pounds, and right now we’re turning a Model 100 into a Model 200, along with an STC upgrade that increases the gross weight to 12,500 pounds, the equivalent of a Twin Otter 400,” said Alksninis.
New systems installed include the customers’ choice of avionics, overhauled or factory-new Pratt & Whitney Canada PTA-27s or PT6A-34s and overhauled or new propellers. New-life Twin Otters are also delivered with fresh exterior paint and an interior refurbishment to the customer’s specs.
Ikhana holds numerous supplemental type certificates (STCs) and parts manufacturer approvals (PMAs) from the FAA, EASA and Transport Canada covering everything from gross weight increases to wing boxes to wings, to fuselage, to flight controls. The most recent STC and PMA approvals were for the RWMI Twin Otter X2 re-life flight controls. An STC for the nacelles has also been received and the PMA was expected prior to the NBAA convention.
As part of an agreement with Viking Air, which acquired de Havilland in 2006, Ikhana is an approved service center for any Twin Otter and provides a number of modification kits to the OEM, such as those for a gross weight increase. Ikhana has also delivered two Twin Otters with executive interiors done at the company’s facilities in Murrieta in the past year.
Depending on options, a Twin Otter X2 might cost $4 million for a VFR airplane.
Alksninis said in addition to the two executive Twin Otter X2 models with Ikhana cabin outfitting, several special-mission models are currently in the works. At any one time, there are approximately a half-dozen X2 Twin Otters undergoing re-life. “And we have a year-long waiting list for wings,” he said. The company employs more than 100 at its California facilities
Ikhana holds repair station approvals from EASA, the FAA and Transport Canada and is endorsed by Viking Air for the Dash 7 as well as the Twin Otter. The company also provides MRO services for turboprops through medium business jets.
At its NBAA booth, Ikhana has a full-size Twin Otter nose on a stand, complete with a radar pod. Having a full aircraft on the static display line at Henderson Executive Airport was not an option, said Alksninis. “Once delivered, they immediately go into service and it’s hard to get one back.”
As for business in 2013, Alksninis described Ikhana as “busy as all heck, probably because we support an international customer base worldwide that fly Twin Otters, from tourism to cargo to regional airlines to oil and mining companies to personal owners.”