Twin Otter Series 400 completes maiden sortie

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Twenty-two years after de Havilland Canada ended production of the Twin Otter turboprop, the first new-build model, Viking Air's DHC-6 Series 400, has successfully completed its maiden sortie.

The twin-engined aircraft, bearing serial number MSN 845, took its initial flight on 16 February from Viking's final assembly facility in Calgary, Alberta and "performed exactly as expected", says Viking manager of flight operations Steve Stackhouse, who piloted the aircraft along with Viking president and CEO David Curtis.

"It felt very stable, fast, and even with my thousands of hours on type, this new Series 400 Twin Otter brought a smile to my face," adds Stackhouse.

The Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-34-powered aircraft has been registered in Canada as C-FMJO in honor of Michael J Orr, a former Viking board member, who was an avid supporter of the plan to re-start Twin Otter production.

Orr passed away on 10 October 2006. "In keeping with Viking tradition of naming aircraft, 'Mikey' has been fondly added to the nose of MSN 845," says Viking.

Canadian certification of the Series 400 is imminent and deliveries to customers will begin "shortly", says the firm.

Launch customer Zimex Aviation of Switzerland will receive the first production aircraft, which is configured with a commuter interior and will be used throughout North Africa servicing the oil and gas industry.

Other non-military customers for the Series 400 include Trans Maldivian Airways, Air Seychelles, Petro Air, Avwest, Loch Ard, Maldivian Air Taxi, Air Loyaute, Air Moorea, Harbour Air Malta, and Vityaz.

Viking says the first ten serial numbered aircraft are at various stages of final assembly, and production "is gearing up to reach a steady build rate of one-and-a-half aircraft every four weeks".

The Canadian company purchased the type certificate for the Twin Otter and six other de Havilland aircraft from Bombardier in February 2006, restarting the Twin Otter line a year later. The original Twin Otter was last produced in 1988.

The most notable of changes to the original design is the incorporation of the fully integrated Honeywell Primus Apex digital avionics suite and the P&W PT6A-34 engines.