Aviation company's success soars with Twin Otter
Colleen Schmidt, CTV Calgary
Published Wednesday, March 5, 2014 4:24PM MST
Last Updated Wednesday, March 5, 2014 5:08PM MST
An aircraft manufacturer based on Vancouver Island will mark a major milestone in Canadian aviation when the 50th plane rolls off the line on Thursday and its assembly success has a Calgary connection.
Viking Air in Sidney, B.C., specializes in de Havilland products and started production of the Twin Otter in 2010.
That year it made one aircraft and now it produces two a month in its Victoria and Calgary plants.
Production of the original Twin Otter ran from 1965 to 1988 and the plane was known for its rugged durability in the Canadian north.
The versatile aircraft remains the largest selling 19-passenger commuter airplane in the world and is renowned for its ability to take off and land in short distances.
“Anywhere, it can take you anywhere. If you want to go to Antarctica, it can take you to Antarctica. Pretty much anything short of landing on the moon, this thing can take you anywhere” said Gregory Davis, production engineer.
Production on the plane begins in Victoria and then parts are sent to Calgary to be assembled.
There are currently six planes in various stages of construction in the Calgary plant and they will be sent back to Victoria for finishing touches before they are shipped to clients all over the world.
“You can pretty much point to any part of this earth and there is a Twin Otter that was built in Canada, and with 50 now out there, there's a Twin Otter built by Viking in just about every spot on the globe,” said Viking CEO, David Curtis.
Calgary based Kenn Borek Air has the largest fleet of Twin Otters with 33 planes.
Westcoast Air flies passengers all over B.C. in the planes and uses the water as a runway.
Rick Matthews first started flying a Twin Otter almost 15 years ago and says the little plane is a pleasure to operate.
‘When I first got in the Twin Otter, what I think stood out the most, was just the power it had. Friends have said it's like a single otter on steroids, it's really a powerful airplane and its ease of maneuvering on the water as well,” said Matthews.
There are over 800 original Twin Otters in operation around the world, and Viking Air is making sure the iconic aircraft continues to soar.
Viking purchased the rights to produce the Twin Otter and also picked up six more aircraft from the old de Havilland line.
The company is currently focusing its efforts on the Twin Otter but newer versions of the Beaver, Caribou and Buffalo could be in production soon.
(With files from Kevin Fleming)