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Island Hopper

Air Seychelles becomes launch customer for revamped Twin Otter DHC6-400

Wolfgang H. Thome, eTN  Feb 28, 2010

The De Havilland Twin Otter used to be a workhorse aircraft in the African skies for a long time, as it was and still is in the Seychelles for inter-island flights, before the manufacture of the DHC6-300 series was halted with production number SN844 nearly 22 years ago. Since then, newer types of turboprop STO’ aircraft came on the market, including the Cessna Caravan, but aviators never failed to appreciate the performances of their "old darling."

News was, therefore, received with some degree of anticipation, when it was learned that a revamped version, the Canadian-built Viking (successor to De Havilland) DHC6-400 aircraft with production number SN845 has completed her maiden flight, paving the way for the SN 846 going into the final production line. Delivery of that particular aircraft to Air Seychelles is expected in a couple of months, adding to their fleet of presently 3 similar turboprop Twin Otter STOL aircraft.

Besides the DHC’s, Air Seychelles also operates two Short 360 aircraft for their domestic services, and the added capacity will come in handy, considering that the Seychelles Tourist Board is looking at a 5 percent increase in passenger arrivals for 2010, and the resulting need will be to have more air services from Mahe to the outlying islands, where tourists may wish to spend their holidays.

The new line Dash 400 Twin Otter is equipped with a state-of-the-art avionics suite on the flight deck, and the new Pratt & Whitney PT 6A-34 turbine engines will add power, fuel savings, and reliability for operators, especially in the operating environment of Air Seychelles, which flies from Mahe into remote small airfields across the archipelago. Dozens of other improvements will also benefit flight performance and economics for the aircraft, making it surely again a favorite for island hoppers flying from one island of the archipelago to the next.

The airline also confirmed that orders for 2 B787-900 are pending and due for delivery in 2013 while continuing to operate a fleet of 5 B767 aircraft, both the -200 (2) and the -300 (3), all aircraft offering business and economy class cabins.

Air Seychelles does not operate single aisle jet aircraft due to the need to carry substantial amounts of palletised cargo on every flight to the islands, hence their decision to operate only wide bodied aircraft which are capable of delivering these objectives.

Air Seychelles becomes launch customer for revamped Twin Otter DHC6-400
One of the current Twin Otters of Air Seychelles at the Praslin aerodrome/Photo by Wolfgang H. Thome

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