Updated Twin Otter Takes Off

Converting classic de Havilland bush aircraft to more potent turbine power is not a new prospect, but a Victoria Airport, British Columbia, Canada, company has taken the practice a step further. Viking, a subsidiary of investment firm Westerkirk Capital, made the first flight of its turbine-powered DHC-6 Twin Otter earlier this month. Powered by a pair of Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-34 engines (replacing the original -27s) and outfitted with Wipline 13000 amphibious floats, the company's "technology demonstrator" performed smoothly and as expected, according to test pilots. The aircraft is also modernized with Honeywell Apex avionics and required less than 1,000 feet of runway to become airborne. Dubbed the Series 400 version of the Twin Otter, the Viking project was launched in 2007 and customer deliveries are expected to begin next summer. The Twin Otter conversion follows in the footsteps of another river-mammal namesake, the de Havilland Beaver single, which is also widely converted to PT6A power from its original Pratt & Whitney radial piston engine.