Feb. 12, 2015: Boeing gets the headlines and the prospect of bringing back into production the 757, last delivered in 2005, has been a matter of some debate. Many point to the infeasibility or nearly so of bringing an out-of-production airplane back into production.
It’s been done. Viking Air of Canada purchased all the certificates and IP for the pre-Dash 8 Bombardier/de Havilland propeller airplanes, including among others the Twin Otter 19-passenger airplane.
David Curtis, president and CEO of Viking Air, explained the challenges of bringing the Otter back into production at today’s Pacific Northwest Aerospace Alliance conference in Lynnwood (WA).
Quotations are paraphrased.
- This history of the de Havilland product is something everybody all over the globe talks about.
- Viking holds seven de Havilland type designs from DHC-1 to DHC-7.
- de Havilland niche is short, rugged take-off and landing.
- “Maybe” will put Turbo Beaver back into production.
- 3,500 hundred DHC plans built, of which over 1,000 Beavers and 844 Twin Otters.
- Twin Otter launched at $500,000 in 1966. Operated for 50 years and sold for four or five times. This is why this was put back into production.
- DHC-6-400 was certified in 1965. Last delivery 1984. Price was $1.2m, just sold for more than $3m. Had to look at new certification to today’s standards. We knew that if today’s standards were applied, it wouldn’t be a Twin Otter. Had to negotiate with Transport Canada, FAA and EASA for passenger safety improvements and new cockpit standards.
- Boeing didn’t completely cut up 757 tooling as often reported but we had to almost completely reverse-engineer the tooling on the Twin Otter. Today we have laser trackers and laser jig alignment we can reshoot the jigs as needed. The airplanes coming off the production line are consistently built the same.
- We’ve sold 110 airplanes, delivered 65 or 18 months.
- Russia is a big opportunity for us. BRIC region alone 400 potential.