The Golden Knights will soon be adding a new Viking Twin Otter to its aging fleet of existing 1979 de Havilland Twin Otters. Built by Viking Air in Victoria, British Columbia, at their production plant in Calgary, the new Twin Otter will offer upgraded avionics, engines, and aircraft systems. These upgrades will improve pilot operations and increase training readiness due to its efficient maintenance program.
As you approach the aircraft from the outside, the most noticeable difference will be the longer nose in comparison to the 1979 predecessor. As you enter the cabin, there will be very little alteration in comparison to the older Golden Knight Otters, which both offer seating for 19 passengers. Arriving at the cockpit door there is a noticeably different layout of instruments, with fully digital screens that display a plethora of vital aircraft, meteorological, navigational, and airport information. This improvement in cockpit displays and information will increase the unit’s capabilities for safety as it decreases pilot workload. This will enable the pilots to be more aware of the surrounding environment.
Beneath the skin of the new Otter, you will find there are far less cables, connectors, and wires in comparison to the older Otters. This decreases the probability of electrical and mechanical failures which thereby decreases the amount of time the aircraft sits on the ground for inspections and maintenance.
The older Otters use the PT6A-27 model turbo shaft engine which produces 620 horsepower each. The new Otters are using the larger PT6A-34 engines which produce 750 horsepower each. The aircraft and its occupants will climb to jump altitudes faster thereby increasing training capability and inversely decreasing the hours flown on the airframe.
The introduction of the new and improved Otter is a welcome addition to the unit. We are extremely anxious to pick up and fly our new Twin Otters back to Fort Bragg sometime between October and December of this year, with two more to follow sometime in late summer of 2012.