Viking To Build New Twin Otters

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A Vancouver Island company has committed to resurrecting one of the most popular passenger/utility aircraft ever built. Viking Air of Saanich (near Victoria) British Columbia intends to begin building DHC-6 Twin Otters this year. Parts will be built at the Saanich plant for assembly in Calgary. The company hopes to build nine aircraft this year, 12 in 2008 and 18 in 2010 to start satisfying a pent-up demand for the rugged, STOL-capable fixed-gear turboprops that has forced prices on the used market to skyrocket in recent years. "It's a terrific opportunity," Viking vice president of finance John Morrison told the Peninsula News. "In the aviation world the Twin Otter is a very cherished icon, much like the Beaver, and that we've been given the opportunity to bring it back into production is exciting." Viking, which for decades has been one of the leading repair and modification centers for de Havilland products, obtained the type certificates for six de Havilland products, including the venerable Beaver and Otter bush planes and the Caribou, Buffalo and Dash-7 transports, but it identified the Twin Otter as the most viable for production. A meeting of potential customers for the new Twin Otter last fall suggested a worldwide market of 400 aircraft over the next 10 years. De Havilland built 844 of them until production stopped in 1988, and more than 600 Twin Otters are still in service. The new aircraft will include updated engines, avionics and other systems, but will retain the rugged versatility of the 19-passenger unpressurized original. The aircraft can operate on wheels, floats and skis.