Today we met with David Heath, Director International Marketing, at Viking Air at the NBAA to discuss Viking’s plans.
Our first question was about the Twin Otter program and the company’s thinking and plans. Mr. Heath said that perhaps a stretch would be considered in the future. Currently they are considering a freighter version. The aircraft, even in its current form, remains popular around the world. For example, Viking has a growing fleet in Russia serving secondary cities. The Twin Otter is robust enough to withstand the most basic runways imaginable.
Another new development is the 400S, a new seaplane option that is 500 pounds lighter than the present 400. The 400S is aimed a VFR water taxi service up to 175 miles, and has a simplified flight deck. This particular configuration has been developed at the request of Viking’s customers in that segment. The 400S, at $5.9 million, is about $1 million less expensive than the base 400 model. Clearly, the Twin Otter, even after 50 years, still offers tremendous value and utility.
Viking recently acquired all the rights to Bombardier’s CL-415 Water bomber. At this stage, Viking is in the midst of contact all customers regarding fleet maintenance and to reassure them of Viking full and continuing support. Presently, no new builds are being considered, but the company has taken delivery of three older CL-215 piston models they are converting to turboprop. Given Viking’s reputation for creativity with the Twin Otter, we expect some interesting developments with the CL-415.
Viking is a PT6 focused OEM. We asked whether Viking would consider the new GE ATP for its future programs. The answer was an unequivocal no, citing the PT6 as the gold standard for the industry. Mr. Heath made it clear that the type of work performed by the Twin Otter, operating in harsh environments that would tax any aircraft, demands the most reliable engine. Viking believes there is no match to the PT6.