10th Anniversary of the First Flight
Celebrating the Viking Series 400 Twin Otter's First Flight
Ten years ago on February 16th, 2010, the first Viking-built Series 400 Twin Otter, Manufacturer’s Serial Number (MSN) 845, took her maiden flight in the skies above Viking’s aircraft assembly facility in Calgary, Alberta.
The inaugural flight of the Series 400 Twin Otter was a momentous occasion for all of the employees, suppliers, and supporters who helped get the program off the ground, and marked the first Twin Otter aircraft to be built since the De Havilland Canada factory shut down its production line in 1988 after 844 legacy Twin Otters were produced.
The initial flight and delivery of MSN 845, the first Viking Series 400 Twin Otter, was a symbolic step in a production process that would greatly impact the aerospace industry in Western Canada, and enrich Twin Otter operations around the world.
Witnessing "Mikey's" First Flight
MSN 845 was given the name “Mikey” in honour of Viking CFO Michael J. Orr, who was instrumental in launching the Series 400 program, but sadly passed away prior to the first flight. In historical fashion with a UK twist respecting Michael Orr’s heritage, Mikey was christened with a wee dram of Scotch whiskey prior to taking her maiden voyage.
Viking employees were invited out onto the ramp alongside the main runway to witness this historical occasion, and share in the excitement generated by the Series 400 Twin Otter’s inaugural flight. The moment represented the culmination of their collective work to open a new chapter in this iconic aircraft’s celebrated history, as well as a new chapter for Viking’s growth as an internationally recognized innovator in the aerospace industry.
MSN 845 – Where is She Now?
Since delivery, MSN 845 has borne Swiss-registration HB-LUX and provided essential humanitarian relief and corporate charter services in Africa and the Middle East.
“As a launch customer of the Series 400 Twin Otter, we proudly send our best wishes to Viking on the 10th birthday of the Series 400 as well as the upcoming 50th birthday of Viking itself,” commented Daniele Cereghetti, CEO of Zimex. He added, “MSN 845 has been reliably, economically and safely serving our organization in various special missions in Africa and the Middle East. These missions are primarily dedicated to providing humanitarian aid and industrial support in the oil and gas sector. After 4,250 cycles, we are looking forward to many more happy landings with MSN 845.”
A Legend Reborn
It was a 22-year hiatus between the last of the original De Havilland Twin Otters leaving the factory in Downsview, Ontario and when Viking's Series 400 Twin Otter finally took off. During the intervening years, the Twin Otter had established itself as a rugged and reliable aircraft, suitable for everything from critical medevac evacuations from the most remote and inhospitable places on earth, to regional commuter flights servicing communities inaccessible by road.
To bring this Canadian icon back into production took the efforts of countless individuals committed to improving upon an irreplaceable aircraft, and overwhelming support of the operator group that had made the Twin Otter famous.
With over 800 modifications and upgrades from the original design, the next generation of Series 400 Twin Otters are now in operation in over 37 countries worldwide. Watch the video to learn more about how Viking's team brought this remarkable aircraft back to life.
Viking's Team in Action
The Viking Series 400 production program is a multi-provincial endeavor, with detail parts manufacturing and component assembly operations occurring at the Victoria International Airport in British Columbia, and the main aircraft assembly line located at the Calgary International Airport in Alberta. Supported by a predominantly Canadian supply chain and specialty contractors throughout Western Canada, production of each Series 400 Twin Otter is the result of hard work and technical expertise of a dedicated group of aerospace professionals.
Watch the video for a glimpse of how our Calgary team handles the “Pulse” on our Series 400 aircraft assembly line!
From the Archives: Making Global Headlines
From WINGS Magazine, March/April 2009, by David Olsen
On May 20 1965, the first DHC-6 Twin Otter took to the air and rapidly became the byword for a tough go-anywhere, do-anything aircraft; with 844 sold worldwide by the time production ended in 1988. Now, thanks to the perseverance and vision of Dave Curtis, CEO of Victoria-based Viking Air, the aircraft is making history again. When the all-new Twin Otter Series 400 makes its first flight from Calgary Airport sometime this spring, it will be an unparalleled aviation historical event.
No other aircraft in the world has been returned to volume production more than 20 years after the original production ceased. That this happened with the Twin Otter, speaks volumes about its versatility and the business acumen of Curtis and the Viking team.