Earlier this year Viking Air, of Victoria, B.C. Canada resumed production of the de Havilland Twin Otter and now it has its sights set on an even more ambitious project. The company, which owns the type certificate to seven de Havilland models, is proposing to start building the DHC-5 Buffalo, a large twin-engine utility aircraft with ultra short takeoff and landing capability and a rear cargo door that accommodated bulky cargo. The aircraft has been the backbone of the Canadian Forces’ fixed wing search and rescue fleet for decades but the military is now looking for replacements for the 40-year-old aircraft. Viking President Dave Curtis says the most affordable answer is an updated Buff. “The requirement to replace the present fleet is not based on a lack of ability for the Buffalo to do the job, but simply due to the aging of the aircraft,” Curtis said.
Curtis said other countries have expressed interest in a modernized Buffalo, which would include more efficient, more powerful Pratt and Whitney Canada PW150 engines, glass cockpit with enhanced vision and NVG capability. There are at least two Buffaloes in commercial service in Canada’s north and Viking says there is a potential market for civilian versions of the aircraft. Viking is proposing to phase in the new Buffaloes by upgrading existing aircraft first. New aircraft would be built at Viking’s facilities in Victoria and Calgary.