Lukla, Barra, Saba, St. Barthélemy, and many other airports that are normally unobtainable by most aircraft, are all easily accessed by the Twin Otter. The DHC-6 is also one of the few aircraft that is trusted by a number of nations to fly into and out of the remote ice airstrips of the Antarctic. So with a record history like this, one is compelled to ask, “Why would de Havilland Canada end their program after such success?”
While there are those who suspect that de Havilland stopped production on the Twin Otter in order to place better emphasis on their regional airline products such as the DHC-7 and the DHC-8, the real reason may only be known to those who made it. One thing that we do know, however, is that the Twin Otter lives on. (Mark Stewert, FSBreak episode 57)
Within the last five years, a company by the name of Viking Air purchased the type certificates to all of the native de Havilland aircraft, including the famed Twin Otter. With this move, Viking Air now possesses the right to manufacture those aircraft for which they hold the certificate. De Havilland stopped their final production of the aircraft at the 300 series and since, Viking has seen it fit to continue the numerical tradition and make their new aircraft the aptly named “Series 400.”
The DHC-6 Twin Otter Series 400 will feature a wide variety of new improvements and upgrades to include (but not limited to): fully modernized flight deck with glass cockpit, new safety systems, and an increase in performance through newer PT6A-34 and PT6A-35 turbines. In all, the modifications number somewhere over 400 and make this aircraft a modern competitor on the lower scale regional market.
In 2008 Viking Air flew their first prototype Series 400 (this one with floats) and as of late, have completed and begun flying their first production class Twin Otter. Currently, the first of this new series is still waiting for certification from the Canadian government before being shipped off to its purchaser in Switzerland. Also with recent completion of an 84,000 square foot complex in which to build their new Otters, Viking Air is expected to ramp up production before the year is out.
This article was written and compiled by Ralston Dorn (username: RalPh8), a resident Aviation News Editor for Fly Away Simulation.
Sources: Aviation Week, General Aviation News, Viking Air.
Above sits a Kenn Borek Air Ltd. Twin Otter. Kenn Borek Air Ltd. is the largest operator of Twin Otters with a total of thirty-three worldwide.
A picture of the Viking Air prototype “Twotter” during its test flight in 2008.
A glimpse at some of the “upgrades” for the new Series 400.