Bringing Back the Buffalo

The answer to the world's need for a new tech S&R platform might just be an updated Buffalo.

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de Havilland Buffalo

Viking Air, the British Columbia company that successfully reintroduced the Twin Otter last year, has made a pitch to the Canadian government to consider something old in its quest for a new search and rescue platform: the Buffalo, a heavy-duty midsized utility transport hauler.

Last produced in the '70s by de Havilland, the Buffalo is still being flown by Canadian forces in military and search and rescue roles, though the Canadian government is looking to modernize the fleet. Viking Air is proposing it do that with a Canadian product. Its proposed, updated Buffalo would feature improved Pratt & Whitney engines, flat-panel avionics and night vision capabilities.

The long-term contract might be worth as much as $3 billion, for both airplanes and service. The proposal to stay with a Canadian product is gaining some traction. The current front runner, the Alenia Spartan C-27J, is similar to a C-130 and was jointly developed by Italian manufacturer Alenia and Lockheed Martin.