Canadian Forces FWSAR Project – Industry Response to Media – June
CC-115 Buffalo — Spare Parts and Viking Air Support
David Curtis, President and CEO of Viking Air Ltd. (holder of the type certicate for Buffalo
aircraft), responds to media coverage of parts supply for the Canadian Forces' CC-115. In late 2007, David Pugliese, had reported that "... Military planners in Ottawa [were] scrambling to find parts and
propellers for the [CC-115s], but that is getting more difficult as time goes on." Mr. Curtis responds by saying
that Viking did not purchase rights to the Buffalo only "to abandon [these aircraft] and their owner /
operators". He goes on to say that the CC-115s "could be modernized by an all-Canadian team" to [... serve the
CF ...] for many years to come, at a fraction of the cost of a new fleet of C-27Js". Such a
program could also lead to a 'new-production' model Buffalo.
[After publishing Mr. Curtis' letter, the tone of Canwest reporting shifted slightly. On 13 June 2008, the
Comox Valley Echo refered to "aging but effective Buffalo aircraft".]
[Update also see DHC-5NG: New-Production Buffalo Compared with the Italian C-27J.]
David Curtis' letter regarding coverage of the Buffalo appears below. This letter first appeared in the
Times Colonist and it is republished with the permission of Mr. Curtis.
Sidney, BC - 30 May 2008
David Curtis, President and CEO of Viking Air on the DHC-5 Buffalo
It is wrong to suggest that the Buffalo aircraft – known as the CC-115 in military ser-
vice and DHC-5 in civilian use – is an "orphan" with no "ready supply of spare parts," as has been suggested
in the Times Colonist. Viking Air Ltd. will not let that happen.
Viking Air, which is located at Victoria International Airport, is the Transport Canada-approved design owner (known
as a type certificate) for the [ de Havilland Canada-designed ] Buffalo and is
responsible for worldwide support of this aircraft. Viking Air Ltd.
takes this responsibility very seriously. Viking did not acquire the type
certificates and production rights for the DHC-1 through DHC-7 (which
includes the Buffalo ) from Bombardier in 2006 simply to abandon them and
In fact, the service and support of these aircraft is the primary business
focus of Viking and our almost 300 employees. Viking and our support partner Field Aviation
Calgary are committed to supporting the Buffalo fleet and working with the Depart- ment of National
Defence in building a sustainment model to ensure that the Buffalo aircraft meets the
current and anticipated needs of our Armed Forces in a safe and effective manner.
De Havilland Canada [designed] aircraft are known the world over as rugged, versatile and effective transports.
Viking is evaluating all the production opportunities related to the aircraft programs it purchased
from Bombardier and has already restarted pro- duction of the venerable, multi-mission Twin Otter transport, which had been out of
production since 1988, because the worldwide demand for new examples is strong.
Viking intends to build the Twin Otters, sell them, and support them as only it
knows how. As a long-term supplier of support to the "heritage" de Havilland Canada fleet of DHC-2
Beavers, DHC-3 Otters, DHC-4 Car- ibous, DHC-5 Buffalos, DHC-6 Twin Otters,
and DHC-7 Dash 7s,
Viking...remain dedica- ted to its in-service support responsibilities.
Of the aircraft types designed in the '60s, the Buffalo is one of the few that can
con- tinue in service, without having to undergo a major (and massively costly)
rebuild/ replacement of fuselage or wings in order to remain structurally viable.
According to our records, more than half the original fleet
of Buffalos are still in service around the world. Considering that production stopped in 1986,
this alone is a testament to the aircraft's durability, the loyalty of its users, and the support provided by Viking
and our partners.
The Buffalo is hardly an "orphan"
The Australian Army is still actively using the DHC-4 Caribou [ through 38
Squadron, RAAF ], the Buffalo's 1950s [vintage] predecessor, for the simple reason that
nothing else can do what it does. Many other aircraft types proposed
as replacements were designed in the '60s and have undergone massive modernization and [evolved] to
become aircraft like the C-130J and the C-27J.
The costs to buy these modernized [C-130 Hercules and C-27] aircraft are unfortunate- ly so astronomical that
most air forces have little appetite for a fleet change until it be- comes the only operational alternative.
It is our opinion that the Buffalo could be modernized by an all-Canadian team in order for it to serve the
specialized mission of the DND for many years to come, at a fraction of the cost of a new fleet of C-27Js.
As we have found with the Twin Otter, there is nothing else produced today that will do what the
Buffalo is capable of. This is a Canadian-designed and
built aircraft, perfectly suited for a specialized Canadian mission and supported by local
Canadian companies. [ Update: a 'Buffalo Avionics Life Extension - Lite' program is underway.]
Instead of looking outside of the country, the best solution is to improve on a good thing by
investing in a modernization program to extend the useful life of the existing Buffalo fleet. A
Buffalo fleet modernization might be the catalyst to return the Buffalo to production. There
should be absolutely no doubt that Viking Air and its support partner Field Aviation
are committed to supporting the DHC-5 (CC-115) Buffalo until the year 2015 and longer
– as may be necessary.
The fact that Viking, located on Vancouver Island and the Buffalo design holder, was not contacted by
any media outlet in order to better understand the support arrange- ments for the CC-115 Buffalo is, in
my opinion, unacceptable.
David Curtis, President and CEO of Viking Air Ltd.