A Viking Air Twin Otter takes off midway down the runway at the Alberni Valley Regional Airport on Jan. 13, 2021 during a series of training flights. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)

A Viking Air Twin Otter takes off midway down the runway at the Alberni Valley Regional Airport on Jan. 13, 2021 during a series of training flights. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)

Viking Air tests Twin Otter at Port Alberni airport

Victoria-based company used rural airport for numerous flights

An aviation company from Victoria has been using the Alberni Valley Regional Airport to test one of its aircraft for Transport Canada certification.

Viking Air crews brought a Twin Otter aircraft to Port Alberni in mid-January for steep-angle approach certification with the federal agency, Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District airport superintendent Mark Fortune said. Air crews flew numerous flights over several days.

Viking Air Limited is based in Victoria, and celebrated its 50th anniversary in the Canadian aerospace industry in November 2020. A call to the company was not returned.

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De Havilland first built Twin Otters in 1965 and like its single-engine float plane cousins the Beaver and Otter, is well recognized throughout coastal British Columbia for its capability in the province’s challenging terrain. Viking Air in 2006 obtained the type certificates for de Havilland’s heritage aircraft, including the Beaver and Twin Otters. They now manufacture Twin Otter Series 400 aircraft similar to the one undergoing Transport Canada certification at the AVRA.

Viking Air has a global presence, and Fortune hopes they like Port Alberni’s airport enough to consider building some sort of a facility here. “It would be to the area’s benefit if we did have that organization at the airfield,” he said. The airport already has world-renowned Coulson Aviation operating from the airport, with plans for expansion.

Viking Air did not pay to use the Alberni Valley’s airport for their test flights, Fortune added. The Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District does not have a fee bylaw in place for use of the airport.

“We don’t have any way to charge them for something like that,” Fortune said. “But we’re looking at that for 2021.”

That will be part of the visioning process the ACRD’s airport advisory committee is undertaking.

Fortune said a public survey asking people what they want to see happen at the airport “had a good response” as far as he is aware. Results from the survey will be released sometime in February.

“We’ve got a really good facility,” he said. “We’ve had a huge influx of leases this last year,” including a new hangar that has been built. “There’s possibly four more hangars going in. There’s possibly two air maintenance operations that have leased and possibly a flight school.”

There are only three more leasable lots available, and they are spoken for, he added.

“That’s all within a year and a half (of expansion). Those lots have been available for decades.”

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susie.quinn@albernivalleynews.com

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Ground observers standing next to the runway watch Viking Air’s Twin Otter make repeated short takeoffs and landings as well as low approaches during a testing phase at Alberni Valley Regional Airport on Jan. 13, 2021. (BILL MCLEOD/Special to the News)

Ground observers standing next to the runway watch Viking Air’s Twin Otter make repeated short takeoffs and landings as well as low approaches during a testing phase at Alberni Valley Regional Airport on Jan. 13, 2021. (BILL MCLEOD/Special to the News)

A Viking Air Twin Otter from Victoria gains altitude on takeoff during a test flight at Alberni Valley Regional Airport on Jan. 13, 2021. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)

A Viking Air Twin Otter from Victoria gains altitude on takeoff during a test flight at Alberni Valley Regional Airport on Jan. 13, 2021. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)

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