BAC - Beaver Aircraft Canada


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25 July 2007
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These guys are a bit of a mystery. They popped up online in 2003 when BAC announced that they intended to re-start production of the DeHavilland Beaver and Otter in modified form and, later, the build a modernized version of the still-born Trident Trigull amphibian.

According to Flight International (08 April 2003), BAC "acquired Viking Air, which owns the production jigs and drawings for all three aircraft". I'm not sure that is accurate. Viking had bought jigs from DHC and made others to product Beaver/Otter parts. I doubt that any Trigull "production jigs" ever existed.

Images come from "Market Analysis: Next-Generation DHC-2 and DHC-3 and the Utility Aircraft Market" done by McNeal & Associates ( ) a small, Richmond, BC-based aerospace consulting firm. I'm not sure if BAC or McNeal did the drawings.

At the time, BAC had grand designs including a production line in Kelowna, BC (at the former Western Star truck plant). The first produced would be a revised, PT6-powered Otter, followed by a Turbo Beaver (with the Orenda Recip V-8 as an alternative), and finally the modernized Trigull. But nowadays, almost all online mention of BAC had disappeared.

Viking Air has now relaunched a straightforward DHC-6-400 Twin Otter and also intends to build a new-production version of their Turbo Beaver conversion. No sign of any involvement by Beaver Aircraft Canada.

The BAC website is also long-gone but, from that site, is a front and side view of the Super Otter (attached). I'll cover the four main BAC concepts in separate posts.


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Beaver Aircraft Canada New-Generation Beaver

Stretched fuselage to increase cabin size (accommodation for 10 + pilot). Re-designed front windshield, digital cockpit instruments. Wider freight door.

Thicker chord wing with vortex generators to improve slow speed handling. Improved electric fowler flap system. Wet wing replaces DHC-2 fuselage fuel tanks. Larger wing will allow an increased gross weight up to 7,200 lbs on wheels (current 5,100 lbs). Empennage area also increased.

The landing gear strengthened to handle increased weight. Strut fairings improved to reduce drag (wing braces aerodynamically smoothed as well).

Engine to be the Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-20 or Walter M601E turboprop, or the 600hp Orenda Recip OE600A V-8.


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Beaver Aircraft Canada Next-Generation DeHavilland Turbo Otter

Turbo Otter would carry 16 + pilot VFR, 10 + pilot IFR. Gross weight - 10,000 lbs (2,000 lbs more than the current Turbo Otter conversions). Stretched fuselage with wider access door.

Re-designed similar to Next-Gen Beaver - new windshield, cockpit panel, stronger landing gear, an enlarged, thicker chord wet wing with electric flaps, smoother strut fairings. Probably vortex generators used to improve slow flight characteristics.

Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-135 or equivalent.


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Beaver Aircraft Canada Next-Generation DeHavilland Super Otter

The Super Otter would have an enlarged airframe and Soloy Dual-Pac (the pdf lists this as a Twin-Pac, confusing the Soloy design with the PWC). The Dual-Pac makes the Super Otter a multi-engine type certifiable under FAA Part 23 Commuter regulations (IFR capable aircraft with 10-to-19 pax seats) up to 19,000 gross weight.

Super Otter would have a fixed tricycle landing gear and two PT6A-112s. The Super Otter
will likely be designed for a gross weight of 12,500 lbs and be slightly larger
than the DHC-6 Twin Otter.


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Beaver Aircraft Canada Tri-Gull

The Tri-Gull will be less familiar, so a bit of background ...

The Tri-Gull designer was Percival Hopkins Spencer whose earlier Air Car was produced as the Republic Seabee. The design was sold to Trident Aircraft Ltd. of Vancouver, BC for development (being originally known as the Trident Trigull-320).

Three prototypes were built (including one for static tests). I saw the first prototype being built in Richmond, BC by Canadian Aircraft Products (better known as a maker of aircraft float -- I'm not sure if CAP also built the other two). After an instrument check at Pacific Avionics, the first prototype flew at YVR in August 1973.

The plan was to produce the Tri-Gull at Patricia Bay airport (now Victoria International) but the project died in the recession of the mid-70s.

Somehow, BAC ended up with the rights to the Tri-Gull design. What BAC proposed to build looked quite different from the original Tri-Gull. The nose is reminescent of the 'Sea Hornet' PT6 Seabee conversion. The wings look like original Tri-Gull units but with winglets added.

Seabee News for 2003 has images of both the 'Sea Hornet' (scroll down to Nov 07) and the original Trigull in Viking's hangar (Jan 26), as well as a brief FI story (from 08 April 2003) on Beaver's efforts to establish production (Apr 14).

Few details of the BAC Tri-Gull were given. It was to accommodate 6 (including pilot) and be powered by Lycoming piston or Rolls Royce (Allison) RR250-17B turbine engine. The Lycoming was presumably a turbocharged, 350 hp TIO-540-J2BD since that engine was used in the prototypes (replacing the original Continental Tiara 6-320).


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Very interesting, thank you
Question is, how serious the intentions to build these Beaver/Otter variants
The new Beaver would have faced stiff competition, mainly from the Cessna Caravan,
but during the late '90s several others tried to jump the train, most suited to "bush
flying" probably the Aeroprogress T-101 Grach. The Super-Otter would have played
in the same league as the Ayres Loadmaster or Pathfinder 21, the Dual Pac powered
Caravan development, so maybe building new "old" Beavers and Otters just didn't seem
to be a good investment ?
Good question, Jens. My impression is that BAC was serious enough just undercapitalized. And perhaps lacking in focus or, at least, trying to bite off more than they could realistically chew.

As for the competition, the Caravan featured large in the market analysis. But Viking Air is going ahead with plans to produce new-build Beavers --

They seem to regard this as a replacement market for aging DHC Beaver airframes. Who can say if this is a realistic appraisal or not. Viking have had the rights to the DHC line for a couple of years but progress seems slow (I guess it's a bit of a jump from parts and rebuilds to completely new aircraft).

Anyway, Viking has chosen to relaunch the Twin Otter first. This too seems to be mostly a replacement market. Makes a lot more sense to me than a Dual-Pac Super Otter!
I think, Viking aims more or less at the canadian market only. Building
a proven design, without the need for much development work may well
be lucrative then, I think. How many airframes could perhaps be sold in
Canada ? But the BAC designs aren't just re-engined, but quite comprehensively
redesigned, I think, quite risky for a small company.
And even really old designs can beat newer ones, as was proven recently, when
the Alfred-Wegener-Institut (german institute for polar exploration) substituted their
Dornier 228 for a Basler BT-67, a re-engined DC-3 !
Yes, I think you've nailed BAC's problem. Resurrecting a previously successful design is one thing, endlessly fiddling with that design is another. Especially, as you say, for a small company.

Viking has gone ahead with their DHC-6-400 which incorporates various Twin Otter STCs (Viking's and others') but leaves the basic design intact.

I don't think that Viking is focused on the Canadian market though. From what I understand, the first new-production Twin Otters are all ear-marked for Africa.

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