Buy a New Twin Otter - and Jump Out of It

When it comes to resurrecting a classic, it is hard to beat Viking Air and the de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter. The US Army's Golden Knights parachute team has just taken delivery of the first of three new Twin Otter Series 400s (below) ordered from Victoria, BC-based Viking.

Photo: US Army

My colleague and AWIN analyst Nigel Prevett says Viking has delivered 23* DHC-6-400s since it restarted production in 2010, but more impressively has 64 more on backlog. That success is probably a big part of the reason why other rugged and reliable 18/19-seaters are coming back from the dead.

RUAG Aviation is producing the revamped Do 228NG (with airframe from HAL in India), although Nigel counts only three delivered since 2010 and eight on backlog. In Australia, Indian-owned GippsAero is working on relaunching the GAF Nomad as the GA18 for delivery beginning in 2014. 

There is a reason these old - sorry, tried and true - designs are still around - it is hard to get a new aircraft off the ground in the 19-seat market. In 2011, Indonesian Aerospace announced plans to develop the N-219, a derivative of the NC212 it produces for Airbus Military, but there is no news of progress. And France's Sky Aircraft went under last year having failed to raise funding for its SK-105 Skylander.

Meanwhile, back to those Golden Knights Twin Otters, designated UV-18Cs. The Army says the lower cost to maintain the new aircraft is the main justification for replacing the team's older UV-18A Twin Otters - an argument Viking will want other DHC-6 owners to heed. The Golden Knights aircraft are modified with "hammock-style" seating for 16 parachutists by Ikhana Aircraft Services in California.

* NOTE - Deliveries updated

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