Canadian manufacturer confident of Ottawa backing

British Columbia-based Viking Air has formally launched its Twin Otter Series 400, confident its plan to update the de Havilland Canada-designed 19-seat twin-turboprop will qualify for repayable financial assistance under the Canadian government's new research-and-development support scheme.

The decision will make Victoria-based Viking Canada's only manufacturer of certificated aircraft west of Ontario, says president and chief executive David Curtis. Major components will be built in Victoria for final assembly in Calgary, Alberta. Deliveries will begin within 24 months.

Viking decided to restart Twin Otter production after an 18-year gap after securing sufficient firm orders and further investment from majority shareholder Westerkirk Capital. The final step came with the Ottawa government's announcement of its Strategic Aerospace and Defence Initiative (Flight International, 10-16 April).

Curtis "fully expects" the Series 400 programme to meet the requirements for repayable R&D funding support set out by Industry Canada, and Viking says it has had "positive discussions" with Export Development Canada, the government agency that would provide financial services to purchasers of new Twin Otters.

Launch customers include Trans Maldavian Airlines, with five orders Air Seychelles with two firm orders and two option aircraft Air Moorea with two orders and Swiss charter operator Zimex Aviation with one. All are existing Twin Otter operators. Lessor Loch Ard Otters of Palm Beach, Florida has placed six orders and six options.

The Series 400 is priced at $3.2 million, on wheels, with a standard 19-seat interior and basic instrumentation, Viking says. Full de-ice, float, amphibious and ski landing gear are aftermarket options.

Source: Flight International