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PARIS: Viking targets China, Russia with Twin Otter

Viking Air's latest version of its Twin Otter, the DHC-6-400, stopped at Le Bourget this week before resuming a delivery flight to Africa.

The Canadian manufacturer is promoting at Paris several updates to the 19-passenger and speciality aircraft, while also still contemplating resuming production of its CL-415 water bomber.

The Twin Otter parked under the hot Paris sun will next depart for Nigeria for delivery to Caverton Helicopters, which intends to operate the type on oil and gas missions in Cameroon, says Viking marketing executive Angela Murray.

The company has built about 125 series 400 Twin Otters since 2010, when it delivered the first of that model, which has been upgraded with Honeywell Aerospace Primus Apex avionics, Pratt & Whitney PT6A 34 turboprops as standard power and new composite components, Murray says.

In addition to carrying passengers, the Twin Otter remains in demand to fulfil infrastructure, industrial and military missions, and as a seaplane variant, she says.

"We see China as a huge seaplane market for us," Murray says, adding that Tru Simulation is developing the first Twin Otter seaplane simulator.

Viking sees demand for 50 Twin Otters in China "right off the bat", says Murray.

"Russia looks like a huge market," she adds.

Meanwhile, Viking continues to study the option of restarting production of the CL-415 water bomber, a firefighting aircraft that can scoop up 6,137 litres (1,620 USgal) of water in 12sec, according to Viking.

Viking acquired the CL-415's type certificate from Bombardier last year, and has acquired all production jigs and tooling.

The production line is set up and ready to go at a new site in Calgary, and the company could start making the low-production aircraft again, depending on demand, says Viking executive vice-president of sales and marketing Robert Mauracher.

In the meantime, Viking will convert seven of the older CL-215 water bombers to the fully updated CL-415EAF (enhanced aerial firefighter), he says.

Those aircraft will have updated avionics and other improvements and cost some $10 million less than new CL-415s, says Mauracher.

Viking expects to complete the first CL-415EAF in 2019, he adds.

The company generates much of its revenue from service and support of in-service aircraft, Mauracher says.

Some 530 DHC-6s, 84 CL-415s and 36 CL-215s remain in service worldwide, according to Flight Fleets Analyzer.

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