Just as it’s written on a poster on the wall at the Viking Air building in North Saanich, it “all starts here.”
“We manufacture the Twin Otter aircraft from this facility manufacture all the detailed parts,” said Dominique Spragg, vice president of strategic planning with Viking Air.
Before a plane is assembled, each of its parts is precisely made in a warehouse; some hammered, others measured and all of them inspected.
But Viking Air was not always in the manufacturing business. When it began in 1970, it was a maintenance and repair facility for aircraft but over the last 20 years, it’s developed into a manufacturer of not only parts but now full aircrafts.
“We do the assembly of the wings the cockpit and so forth. They all come through our supply chain and then we assemble the aircraft finally in Calgary,” said Spragg.
The plane comes back to the North Saanich facility where they can add customization’s requested by the customer.
“Air conditioning, long-range radios, short-range radios sometimes camera hatches,” said Spragg.
Each customization or modification has to be approved by Transport Canada and for that to happen they have to see it in action.
“We have to demonstrate to transport Canada that it is a safe modification and this is the vehicle that we use to do that,” said Spragg.
After they’re done, the plane is put back together and when it comes to delivery, they’ve flown to customers anywhere in the world.
“We put long-range tanks on the aircraft so that they are able to make it across to the Bering Strait if they are heading over to Asia or across the Atlantic if they are heading over to Europe or Africa,” said Spragg.
But their expertise doesn’t stop with manufacturing. They also have their hand in training future pilots.
“We can take student pilots literally all the way from no experience all the way to commercial floatplane pilot on a Twin Otter,” said Spragg.