How Viking Air Builds a de Havilland Twin Otter

The Foyer at Viking Air

Occupying a two-story wall in the foyer of the Saanich head office, a rendering of one of the original de Havilland Twin Otter drawings reminds Viking workers of their plane’s heritage. And the headaches involved in getting

Twin Otter Wing Strut Assembly

An assembly worker rivets wing struts for the Series 400 Twin Otter. Even with the most modern computer-aided manufacturing techniques, working with the thin sheets of aluminum that form the aircraft’s skin requires

Twin Otter Wing Assembly

Viking’s Saanich facility, tucked in behind the Victoria airport, handles parts manufacturing and assembly. For final assembly, the parts are shipped to Viking’s Calgary facility. Entire wings count as parts, though &n

A Workbench at Viking Air

This might look more like how model airplanes are made than part of a modern aircraft manufacturing process, but much of the detailed work in Viking’s parts facility is done at a bench like this using hand tools.

Viking Air’s Young Workforce

Finding skilled, experienced workers will be one of Viking’s biggest challenges as the company looks toward scaling up its operations in the future. While postwar-era de Havilland had its pick of grey-haired crafts

Viking’s Antique Aluminum Roller

Viking uses tools like sophisticated computer modeling software to make their manufacturing process more efficient. In some cases, however, they have no choice but to use the same equipment their de Havilland foreb

A Computer-guided Router

The most intricate pieces of aluminum are cut out from sheets using a router guided by computer models of each part. This process enables the precision and repeatability that make the assembly process a lot less hammer-and-swe

A Twin Otter Series 400 Flight Deck

Knowledge and experience are shared as assembly workers put together a Series 400 flight deck. Currently, Viking is able to produce about one new plane per month, but they hope to reduce that time by about a week. F

An Old Twin Otter, Mid-Overhaul

Viking began in 1979 as a repair and overhaul shop for de Havilland aircraft, and with so many old Otters still in use whose owners are willing to pay to keep them aloft, space is always tight in the Second-World-War-er

Replacing the Belly Skin on a Twin Otter Series 300

This older Series 300 Twin Otter is in the middle of a belly skin replacement. The painful-sounding procedure is one of the many expensive age-defying surgeries greying birds are subjected to. But, a

A Twin Otter’s Turboprop Engine

This 750-horsepower Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6-A 34 turboprop engine is one of two mounted on the wings of Peru’s new Series 400 Twin Otter. The PT6 family of engines, first developed in the 1950s, are famou

Peru’s New Viking Twin Otter

A representative of the Peruvian government inspects the first of the 12 new Twin Otters that country purchased to be complete. The final inspection isn’t just ceremonial. Tape on the ground in the Viking hangar de

Twin Otter Series 400 Floats

This set of Series 400 floats is destined for Avwest, a small charter service based in Perth, Australia. Customers from Indonesia (Airfast Indonesia has ordered four) to the Maldives (Maldivian Air Taxi and Trans Maldivian

The Viking Twin Otter Series 400 Prototype

A Series 400 prototype undergoing auto-pilot testing at the Victoria Airport. The rolling pastoral landscape of the Saanich Peninsula make for a nice place to make airplanes.

 

Back to the September 2011 story, “Viking Air Resurrects the Twin Otter,” by David Godsall