View Full Version : Twin Otter Production to Resume

11th Mar 2008, 18:34
The Twin Otter flies again

From Monday's Globe and Mail
March 10, 2008 at 3:10 AM EDT

As David Curtis chatted at the Singapore Airshow last month, he was surprised that some foreign delegates didn't link Canada with Mounties, moose and maple syrup.
The Viking Air Ltd. chief executive officer finally made the aviation executives take notice of Canada when he began touting the return of the fabled Twin Otter plane, 20 years after manufacturing was halted.
In just mentioning the name Twin Otter, Mr. Curtis gained respect for Canada and crucial credibility for Victoria-based Viking, which holds the rights to restart production of the turboprop.
Viking is owned by Westerkirk Capital Inc., a private equity firm that invests on behalf of the family of Victoria's Sherry Brydson, who is the niece of the late billionaire Ken Thomson.
Mr. Curtis left the Singapore Airshow, Asia's largest aerospace convention, with a stack of business cards from prospective buyers of the 19-seat Twin Otter.

Keen interest for the rugged, twin-engine bush plane came from airlines and governments in Southeast Asia, Africa, India and the Middle East.
In hard-to-reach regions around the globe, “the Twin Otter is Canada's best-known export,” Mr. Curtis said in an interview from Viking's head office and plant near Victoria International Airport.
Mr. Curtis has secured more than 40 firm orders for the rebirth. Trans Maldivian Airways in the Maldives – which already has 16 original Twin Otters in its fleet – has ordered five of the new planes, formally called the DHC-6 Twin Otter, Series 400.
Others on the order list include Loch Ard Otters LLC of Florida, Air Seychelles of Africa, Air Moorea of Tahiti and the U.S. Army's Golden Knights parachute team.
“In the grand scheme of aerospace, the Twin Otter is in a fairly small market. But we love this niche. It's a great product and it's our plan to fill the niche,” Mr. Curtis said.
The Victoria plant is gearing up to make Twin Otter components, adding 100 workers over the past year to bring its payroll to 265 people. Final assembly of the plane will be in Calgary, where there are now six employees, but will ramp up to 75 people within a year. The plane's engines will be supplied by Pratt & Whitney Canada Corp.'s plant in Lethbridge, Alta.
Viking will be producing an updated Twin Otter prototype this spring with a more powerful engine and lighter composite materials than the first-generation model, but for the most part, the original design remains intact.
Mr. Curtis reckons that the Twin Otter will sell like hotcakes, at $3.5-million to $4-million each, depending on the specifications.
A study commissioned by Viking suggested that there's worldwide demand for 440 Twin Otters over the next decade. But Mr. Curtis plans to restrict production to a lower, manageable level of almost 200 planes over a 10-year span, given the shortage of skilled staff and the long lead time it takes to train new employees.
The first order of the new-generation plane has been spoken for, to be delivered in the spring of 2009 to Switzerland's Zimex Aviation Ltd., which specializes in flying in North Africa and the Middle East. After that, seven or eight Twin Otters will be built in the rest of 2009, followed by a dozen in 2010 and 18 planes in 2011.
Viking is zeroing in on a niche market for versatile small planes – too small to catch the fancy of Montreal-based Bombardier Inc., Boeing Co. of Chicago and European-based Airbus SAS, which devote their energy to building large jets that sell for at least $50-million each.
Boeing shut down Twin Otter production in 1988, just two years after buying de Havilland from the Canadian government. In 1992, Bombardier bought de Havilland from Boeing, inheriting the “type certificates” for the Twin Otter and other de Havilland planes such as the iconic Beaver.
Those certificates – which clear the way for the manufacture and sale of planes – would still likely be gathering dust at Bombardier were it not for Toronto-based Westerkirk's decision in 2003 to buy Viking, a long-time supplier of spare parts for de Havilland planes.
Mr. Curtis and Westerkirk president James Lawson patiently negotiated with Bombardier, and in 2006, Viking acquired the certificates.
“My ego tells me that Bombardier missed an opportunity, but the reality is that the Twin Otter was too small a market for them,” Mr. Curtis said.
In India, where the original Twin Otter isn't even flown because of restrictions on importing planes older than 15 years, Viking is fielding unexpected inquiries. Mr. Curtis met recently with aviation officials in Delhi, Bangalore and Mumbai, and he's optimistic of orders from India. But first, India must set rules for seaplanes – the Twin Otter can be fitted with floats, wheels or even skis.
While it could be another five or 10 years away, Mr. Curtis envisages India as a potential site for a second assembly site, to complement the Canadian manufacturing operations.
He acknowledges the challenges of cracking the Indian market, but figures that if either a substantial portion of components come from India's aerospace sector or if final assembly is located on the subcontinent, then Viking stands a better chance of winning government approval for Indian airlines to place orders.
By contrast, he doesn't hold out much hope for sales in China, since the Chinese already produce a competing plane, the Harbin Y-12.
The Twin Otter, however, is the favourite for many buyers because of the plane's impressive production run at de Havilland and because so many are still workhorses.

11th Mar 2008, 20:45
Excellent news. I flew one for a couple of years many moons ago; it's an aeroplane that "does what it says on the tin"

PPRuNe Pop
11th Mar 2008, 21:55
I did too and it would be fantastic indeed for it to upgraded with the latest technology. It is a super aeroplane by any standards.

12th Mar 2008, 05:48
Best replacement for a Twin Otter is a new Twin Otter.

12th Mar 2008, 12:41
Now all we need is a new DC-3 :8

13th Mar 2008, 17:48
Now all we need is a new DC-3Contact Basler Aerospace, Oshkosh, Wisconsin, USA. ;)

13th Mar 2008, 21:45
Now all we need is a new DC-3 with proper engines :8

13th Mar 2008, 22:15
Twin Otter/ PFD Displays.
Original Post:

The DHC-6 in my humble opinion is a truely remarkable A/C from the point of view of its robustness, and ease of field maintainence.

It is a machine that I am pleased to say I am very fond of.

It is used in many area's around the globe, from Water/Floats, Coral, Stone, Sand, Grass, Gypsum, and Paved surfaces.

Alot of these sufaces have vibration frequencie's that cause the instrument panel to shake somewhat, and this frequecy varies hugely dependant upon the condition of the strip, and its surface.

Last week a brand new machine ( of another type) was grounded becuse of a failure of a PFD screen, due to the failure of a cooling fan.

The replacement part was only available ex USA, and only then after 3 days, the wrong part arrived? another few days and another was located from another source.

These parts apparently were very pricey indeed for what they were.

Now I understand that the NEW VIKING TWIN OTTER is being built to save weight with PFD screens and going away from the Analog instrumentation that alot of these countries in very remote locations operate.

I wonder if this will detract from its robustness and ease of maintainence in these locations, IE in the pacific attracting experianced engineer's has always been an issue, and always will be.

What will this mean to spares, engineering skill, down time "COSTS", and spares carried at what cost? in comparisim to Analog?

Engineers opinions please.

Hello Rupert:

I am the person responsible for the design and specification of the instrument panel on the new Series 400 Twin Otter. By profession, I am both an engineer and a pilot, and I have flown in Africa for most of my career. I’ve worked in all the fun places – Angola, Loki, Hassi Messaoud, Liberia, Somalia, the lot of them, and I’ve flown legacy (Series 300) Twin Otters all over the globe.

I’m going to try and address your concerns and questions as best I can, but please appreciate that because we (Viking) have not yet formally announced the selection of the avionics vendor, I’ll have to be a bit circumspect.

First, some history about flat panel displays in the DHC-6. The first operator in the world to install glass in a Twin Otter was an Indonesian VFR operator who put Collins displays in their fleet back in the mid 1980s. They did this to get relief from the inconvenience and very high cost of repairing mechanical instruments, which had low MTBF in the hot and humid Indonesian archipelago. The next operator to install a glass cockpit in a DHC-6 was Arco in the late 1980s, who put it in a Twin Otter based in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska. Normal winter temperatures there are close to -40°.

Zimex retrofitted their entire fleet of about a dozen Twin Otters with dual Garmin 430s about 8 years ago, and there are now more than 100,000 Garmin 430 or 530 units installed worldwide. Although most of us think of these as com/nav/GPS units, these small Garmin units are actually miniature integrated FMS, and use both electronics and display panels that are similar to what is used by fully integrated avionics suites such as the Garmin 1000, Collins ProLine, Honeywell Epic and Apex, and others. The reliability of the small Garmin units is well proven, and I think most everyone will agree that they have a far, far better MTBF and MTBR than the ‘old fashioned’ radios and instruments that they replaced.

We at Viking spent almost half a year researching various avionics options for the Series 400 Twin Otter, ranging from a traditional federated instrument panel to various fully integrated solutions. The decision making process was not easy, because in addition to having to consider capital cost, one also has to consider spares quantity and cost, maintenance cost, maintenance training, pilot training, weight of the equipment, compliance with different aviation legislation worldwide, and future expansion capabilities. We at Viking were very fortunate to have the advice and guidance of our Technical Steering Committee, made up of both maintenance technicians and maintenance managers from all the companies that have ordered new Series 400 Twin Otters. In the fall of 2007, the committee met at the Viking facilities on Vancouver Island and overwhelmingly approved the decision to go with a modern and fully up to date ‘flat panel’ flight deck. This decision was made by the people who will be buying, flying, and maintaining the new Series 400 aircraft.

We have since chosen a vendor and have decided what the avionics configuration will be. Hopefully this will be publicly announced by the end of March. I can tell you today that we have chosen a very robust, mature, and field-proven system made by a vendor with a great reputation for quality, and that all of the factual data about reliability shows that MTBF and MTBR will be at least 4 times better than the same values for a legacy (electro-mechanical) system. Our vendor backs this up with a warranty that no avionics company would ever have dreamed of offering 20 years ago, when the last legacy Twin Otter was built.

The replacement cost (exchange basis) of the most expensive part on the new Twin Otter instrument panel will be less than half the price of the replacement cost of the most expensive part on the legacy instrument panel. Equipped similarly, a legacy Twin Otter would have had over 90 different components on the instrument panel comprised of about 70 different part numbers. The new Twin Otter will have less than 10 different part numbers on the instrument panel.

You know the headache avionics troubleshooting can sometimes be – the pilot records a fault, you can’t duplicate it, much less find it, when you’re working on the ground, and when you finally do manage to observe the fault, you realize that there are at least half a dozen different paths of influence that could hide the source of the problem. Imagine the difference between that and a fully integrated avionics system that automatically logs every fault – even transient ones – and then tells you exactly what LRU, or exactly what wire is responsible for the problem. Imagine the benefit of hooking your laptop up to the aircraft avionics system via a LAN cable and and the aircraft's own satellite connection and then asking the engineers who designed and built the system to have a look at an individual component (or the whole system) via internet and offer their advice before you begin work.

Vibrations are certainly a concern. We use only components that have been tested to helicopter vibration standards. Hot environments are a concern – we use components that have been proven to function up to +52°C (the operating limit for the aircraft) and won’t perish until +70°C. Heat generation is a concern, which is why we chose the newest and most modern components for the Series 400 Twin Otter – they generate a heck of a lot less heat than earlier generation systems. Heck, our flat panel displays don’t even have a cooling fan in them, because they have been proven in field use to not need one. The US Army uses very same displays in their tanks and aircraft in Iraq – we figure that if the display meets mil spec for combat use in Iraq, it should be tough enough for a Twin Otter operating off a bush strip or choppy water.

We have not chosen the least expensive system, nor have we chosen the most expensive system. We have, without any doubt, chosen the most rugged and reliable system.

I’m certain that the newest generation of Twin Otters will be far more reliable than the legacy fleet. In fact, I’ve staked both my job and my reputation on that.



Thank you for your insight Michael:

I have no question as to the benifits of utilising PFD's:

My Question envolves operators in remote locations, Africa is hardly of comparisim in regard remoteness to some obscure island in the Pacific that relies on the twotter for a once weekly service, and is serviced at its home base by engineers without the rescource to computors, or electrical path fault finding.

(IE: They understand analog, they have another gyro on the shelf)

The logistics envolved in a recovery, or repair, even replacing a battery that has decided to quit under load on a remote start, is a substantial effort.

Alot of these companies, (Airlines) run by small countries that rely on income from Tourisim, & Aid donation, or selling their vote to a UN member country, do not have the expenditure.

Alot of these companies (Airlines) operate from a paved surface one end, a oceanic sector with either NDB navigation, and GPS, to a Sand, Coral, Grass, Dirt, Broken rock type strips.
These strips range from Sea level to 8000 ft Amsl, ( I believe in Nepal they have one at 16000ft) to one way 300 mtr uphill: I mean “uphill” hardly a slop.

Also worth a mention is the fact that on some strips the landing is a very very precise affair, on the ground on the “X” and Beta/Reverse simultaniously with Heavy Breaking, on a surface that shakes the living crap out of you and the machine.

They have relyed upon this fantastic product (All series including vista liner series) that has constantly delivered outstanding service over alot of years.

And hope to have continued support to enable ongoing operations.

I cannot help but think this PFD thing, will not suit all, thats all I am saying, and I feel it would be good, (excellent in fact) if the analog was still on offer with the newly developed model.

I have been taking an interest in the intergration into service of a couple of helicopters, AW 139's: And have seen and witnessed the problems associated with PFD failure.

Now a slight correction is in order: Zimex did not replace their entire fleet 8 years ago with Garmin 530's, as of 2002-2004 they had two:

One of these lost its interface and the whole unit failed?

Their fleet of Twotters had its IFR capability withdrawn by FOCA, but we won't go there! (wern't allowed to let the client know) The only ones FOCA gave IFR certification two was the ones with the 530s, and as I say one lost its interface in total.

As for heat, Carrier Airconditioning company had problems with their airconditioners as supplied rated to 55 deg's C , to a client company down Krechba & Teg, they came down and redesigned the compressors for these units after recording the temperature at 63 deg's C : only 7 deg's away from your max.

Now the military in Iraq, that operate the same PFD's in the heat, do not suffer the heat soaking that these Zimex aircraft suffer, because of the military servicing and maintainence procedures they routinely use, that Zimex does not have and will never ever be able to adopt or implement:

I feel that Viking have to be certain that what they are dealing with is "apples" and not confusing them with oranges:

I have seen a very good product IE: Casa 212, suffer operationally due to in my opinion to having an engine fit being unsuited for its remote roll, if this product had a pair of PT 6's on each wing the Otter would have been out classed along time ago.

Twotter is with doubt, a bloody great machine, I am very fond of it, I have 11500 hrs on “all” series, in most operations with the exception of on Ice, and I hope to do that one day, in saying that, I spend my time at a desk more than I should, and hope to be able to spend more time on the Twotter in the future.

I only hope you guys at Viking understand the way the machine is operated in other parts of the sphere, and don't screw the pooch and be left with a lemon.


As one says in a previous post, the only replacement for a Twinotter is a Twinotter.

But is someone where to go to the expense of STC's and certificating the Casa 212 with a pair of PT6's????? the Twotter would be outclassed!


15th Mar 2008, 16:35

Care to explain why a PT-6 powered C212 will outclass a Twotter?

I don't fly both planes myself, but from my knowledge, a lot of bush operators in Indonesia still choose the Twotter because of their rugged main landing gears which can withstand extreme punishment compared to the ones in C212.


15th Mar 2008, 18:29
The DHC-6 is certified for amphib, floats, skis and wheel-skis. The CASA is certified on wheel-skis.

16th Mar 2008, 02:13
Twotter vs. Casa 212.

Now before I go any further, and excluding certification, and sticking to the apples and apples as it were, the Casa 212 is a very good machine, it is powered by TPE 331’s, very high power output from a very compact engine, that for its power output use’s somewhat less fuel than a PT6 of comparable ESHP:

The Casa 212 has a lot less ground clearance than the Otter, I was told when I did an evaluation of the Casa that it could not be equipped with Mid to High floatation tires, but it can be operated on Snow/Ice and assorted surfaces & strips, thus its stuck with the limiting issue of ground clearance compared to the Otter. (Maybe some one can tell me why it cannot be fitted with floatation tires)

The Otter you can bounce it on/off water as well.

The Casa has a great utility advantage over the Otter with its rear door.

Now lets deal with my statement of hanging a pair of Pt 6’s on it?

The TPE 331 series are fixed shaft engines as opposed to free turbines.

The 331 series require prop spinning on shut down to prevent “shaft set”. the Pt6 is totally immune from this.

The 331 requires a lot more cranking Amps’ from a battery due to its fixed shaft, and having to swing the inertia and mass of the prop, than what the Free turbine of the Pt 6 does, put them in a cold climate, and you will always have issues of cold batteries on both machines, but the Pt 6 can be “milked” if down on Amps, ( Up to a point), I have heard of chaps getting away with starts at as low as 11-12 %, down on the ice with the Twotter.

Where as the Casa has been grounded due not being able to get enough out of the battery.

Now take the PT 6 to a hot and dusty climate, i.e. the desert, or to a tropical climate with coral dust & salt spray, it will keep going and not “overly object” to the climate, the same can not be said for the 331, it is heavier on maintenance to keep it in service, it just plain does not like the dust:

I am not saying that either is good for either engine, but the Pt 6 is a lot less “bothered” by it all.

i.e. “in the bush”, the Pt 6 is a lot more maintenance friendly than its counterpart: ( My opinion)

On the other hand where you operate both types of engines in a clean climate, with ground power readily available, they both give outstanding service.

One could say that the Pt 6 is more versatile when it comes to climatically different & remote area’s, this is my opinion and belief from my experience.

Now “IF” the CASA had PT 6’s on it, and it could be fitted with mid to high floatation gear, with the rear ramp/door, it would without any doubt be a far better machine than the Otter, for a start it would carry just short of 30 punters over a similar distance for almost the same operating cost as the Otter, into and out of , just a bit more runway than what the Otter requires:

But not on/off the big blue wet thing.


tail wheel
16th Mar 2008, 09:42
Here's hoping one day someone restarts DHC4 Caribou production. With a couple of PW120's, Dash 8 engine cowls, clean up the airframe and add new technology instruments and aviations, and the aircraft should sell both t the military and remote area commercial operators.

The "Bou" and "Twotter" - greatest bush aircraft ever built!

17th Mar 2008, 04:15
Forget the 'Bou - too many issues. Go directly to a Buffalo re-engined with PW-150's and you'd have a real airplane, with nothing to match it!

17th Mar 2008, 06:23
Bring back the Tiger Moth, Chipmunk, Dove and the Heron.

17th Mar 2008, 08:37
The "Bou" and "Twotter" - greatest bush aircraft ever built!

Horses for courses, I say but if you want to get in and out of a really short strip you'll prefer the Helio!:ok:

20th Mar 2008, 20:49
Viking Air announced they have selected Honeywell Apex avionics for the Twin Otter 400 program. Features will include vertical terrain display, fuel level indication, trim positions and engine information.

Brian Abraham
21st Mar 2008, 00:08
A little more info to add to twochai's post. From Aviation International News today.

Viking Air told AIN it will use Honeywell Primus Apex avionics in the Twin Otter Series 400, which the company plans to build new at its facility in Victoria, British Columbia. A Honeywell spokesman confirmed that the avionics maker is “in final contract discussions with Viking Air to reach an agreement” on the deal. The integrated suite–already selected for the Pilatus PC-12 and Grob SPn–will enhance crew situational awareness thanks to its vertical terrain display, Viking Air said. Apex also provides other functions, such as constant fuel-level indication, trim position and engine information. The Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-34-powered Twin Otter 400 offers a DC electrical system, in place of previous AC systems on models built earlier by Bombardier (neé de Havilland Canada) before production ceased 20 years ago. Because of this change, Viking Air expects to use LED lighting. The company plans to deliver up to 18 aircraft annually starting early next year and claims orders for more than 50 aircraft, with production sold out through 2012.

santos dumont
24th Jun 2008, 04:49
http://www.igovernment.in/site/decks-clear-for-seaplane-operations-in-india/ (http://www.igovernment.in/site/decks-clear-for-seaplane-operations-in-india/)

June 18, 2008
By Shubhendu Parth
New Delhi: Ninety-eight years after the French engineer Henri Fabre invented the first seaplane, India on Tuesday announced a detailed operational and safety norm paving way for take off and landing of the ‘floating aircraft’ in the country.
The Civil Aviation Requirement (http://dgca.nic.in/cars/D3C-C9.pdf) (CAR) issued by the country’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) is expected to boost tourism in the island territories of the country.
Besides, it would also help coral islands like Lakshadweep improve inter and intra-island connectivity without putting any additional pressure on their scarce land resource.
However, the DGCA notification bars operators from night operations of seaplanes or operations under the Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) conditions at water aerodromes.
IFR are a set of regulations and procedures for flying aircraft in low visibility conditions using data provided by his instruments or by the Air Traffic Control.
The CAR, issued under Rule 133(B) of the Aircraft Rules, 1937, mandates that an operator will need to obtain a permit for non-scheduled passenger services or for charter operations for offering the seaplane service in India.
With the country having no prior experience in running seaplane operation, the CAR also makes it necessary for the operators to obtain ‘airworthiness’ certificate for each seaplane from the DGCA.
Seaplane operation is unique in nature and has its peculiar specialisation. The take-off and landing operations from waterbed with varying winds and rapidly changing meteorological conditions pose a challenge to pilots operating seaplane.
“It is a specialised operation and therefore, pilots engaged in this role are required to be given specific role oriented training,” the CAR states.
According to the DGCA notification, while pilots would need to conduct a detailed check of the aircraft before take-off, a detailed pre-takeoff and pre-landing briefing for passengers has also been made mandatory.
“This is important to equip them with adequate information on survival techniques in case of deep impact with water,” a senior DGCA official said.
Besides the pre-takeoff briefing as mandatory even in the case of normal airplanes, the CAR mandates that seaplane operator shall set-up a passenger briefing room for a pre-boarding audio-visual briefing of passengers.
Seaplanes tend to come to rest inverted in water accidents or incidents but can remain afloat for long periods if the floats are not breached.
Specifying the pilot qualification the notification (http://dgca.nic.in/cars/D7B-B16.pdf) says that since seaplane services does not exist in the country, pilots with a general flying experience of over 250 hours would need to undergo a minimum 10 hours of special training programme.
The special seaplane training includes a minimum of five hours dual instruction experience, and another five hours of take-offs and landing experience as sole occupant of the seaplane.
The experience includes a certain minimum runs of taxiing, sailing and docking. However, in case of two crew aircraft, the pilot also needs takeoff and landing experience as pilot-in-command (PIC), the notification says.
It may be recalled that while recognising seaplane services as part of the civil aviation sector, the Government of India had recently increased the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) cap in the sector.

24th Jun 2008, 13:01
if you want to get in and out of a really short strip you'll prefer the Helio!
Or why not a Ford?

24th Jun 2008, 13:18
No need for 120's, penturbo.com. touchai, I agree wholeheartedly, yes engine/avionic commonality w/ the jherc are big selling points, however a 70-80 kias search speed is needed for the new canadian sar effort the c27 only beats it wrt pressurization and top speed. Apparently DHC landed a buff in a ball stadium thru a curving approach during efforts to sell to the USAF during Nam

24th Jun 2008, 13:25
Viking Signs on with Honeywell “Primus Apex” Avionics Suite As Standard Equipment on the New Twin Otter Series 400s

25th Jun 2008, 20:26
yes engine/avionic commonality w/ the jherc are big selling points, however a 70-80 kias search speed is needed for the new canadian sar effort the c27 only beats it wrt pressurization and top speed.

Agreed, completely, a new-build Buf with PW-150's would be a great airplane for the CAF mountain search job - and it would probably cost half of the C-27J!. The other candidate would be the Bombardier 415MP - if they wanted amphib capability more than cargo volume.

Apparently DHC landed a buff in a ball stadium thru a curving approach during efforts to sell to the USAF during

In 1966 a Buffalo was landed on two baseball diamonds on Governor's Island, now a park in the East River off Manhattan, as part of a civil defence exercise put on by the FAA. The purpose of the exercise, "Metro '66", was to demonstrate how Manhattan might be evacuated or supported during a Cold War nuclear strike. In addition a Twin Otter, Turbo Beaver and a Helio Courier landed on an abandoned pier (Pier #??).

The driver was Oscar Bakke, the very far sighted FAA administrator of the day.