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Ritorna in produzione il DHC5 Buffalo?

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Da aviationweek.com:


Armed with an unsolicited offer to meet Canada’s need for new search-and-rescue aircraft by putting the DHC-5 Buffalo back in production, a small British Columbia company is briefing potential export customers on the rugged short-takeoff-and-landing (STOL) transport.


Viking Air acquired the rights to out-of-production de Havilland Canada types from Bombardier in 2005 and has already restarted production of the DHC-6 Twin Otter turboprop utility aircraft. The last of 123 Buffalos was produced in 1986.


Late last year, the Victoria-based company was in talks on upgrading the Canadian Forces’ six Buffalos, says business-development vice president Rob Mauracher, when reports surfaced that the government planned to accelerate a C$3-billion ($2.4-billion) program to acquire and operate 17 new fixed-wing search-and-rescue (FWSAR) aircraft.


For its recent acquisitions of airlifters and helicopters, Canada has used an accelerated procurement process in which it specified the aircraft to be acquired, leaving only a limited window open to competing offers. The FWSAR procurement has yet to be launched, but the presumed favorite is Alenia Aeronautica’s C-27J Spartan.


Viking has made presentations, but not a formal offer, to the Dept. of National Defense, says Mauracher, adding that initial interest in new-build Buffalos has come from other countries suffering “sticker shock” from the price tag on new light tactical transports.


The proposed DHC-5NG “next-generation” Buffalo would be reengined with Pratt & Whitney Canada PW150A turboprops using the complete “firewall-forward” engine, propeller and nacelle structure from the Bombardier Q400 regional turboprop. “It would be a low-risk modification,” he says.


The cockpit would be updated with the Honeywell Primus Apex avionics used in Viking’s new-production Twin Otter Series 400, or a military system if specified by the customer, says Mauracher. Composites would be used in the tailcone, doors and elsewhere to reduce weight, and several of the systems would be updated.


Viking has also studied pressurizing the Buffalo’s cockpit to increase cruise altitude and use the full performance of the PW150 engines. This would make the Buffalo more competitive against the pressurized C-27J.


“We believe it’s feasible,” he says, adding that Pratt & Whitney Canada and Field Aviation are supporting the Buffalo NG work.


The proposal outlined to Canada is a five-year effort to return the Buffalo to production. The first two years would involve building and flying a “technology demonstrator” to certificate the upgrades. The company would then upgrade Canada’s existing Buffalos while getting the production line for new aircraft up and running.


Mauracher claims the Buffalo NG would be 40% cheaper over the life of the 17-aircraft FWSAR program than the C-27J because of the upgrade’s low development cost and the efficiency and reliability of its commercial turboprop engines. “We are not trying to say that the Buffalo is a Spartan, although they have very similar dimensions. The Spartan is pressurized and has more range and speed, but the Buffalo has incomparable STOL. And you need to depressurize and go low and slow for SAR.”



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Guest intruder
Potrebbe essere un concorrente del C 27J?


Forse solo nel comparto SAR, cui fa esplicitamente riferimento l'articolo citando le migliori caratteristiche STOL del Buffalo rispetto lo Spartan e il fatto che abbia una manutenzione meno costosa.

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Diciamo pure che come prestazioni in generale non c'è confronto, è solo una questione di prezzo. Contando anche che non tocca fare la conversione ai crew potrebbe essere un bell'affare, non fosse che come macchina è decisamente obsoleta. Che i canadesi facciano la fine degli Aussie con i SeaSprite?

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