Brazil has emerged as the next national sales target for the Viking 400, the modernized DeHavilland DHC-6 Twin Otter in production by Vancouver-based Viking Air.
“Brazil is now the top priority for Viking,” says David Caporali, Viking Air’s recently-appointed regional sales director for Latin America.
Since restarting production in 2011, Viking Air has made successful sales drives into Russia and more recently China, where the Reignwood Group recently signed order for 50 Viking 400s.
Brazil is seen as another huge market opportunity for the high-winged 19-seat aircraft with short take-off and landing capability.
In a sense, Viking Air is making up for lost time. At the peak of the DHC-6’s original success from the late-1960s to the mid-1970s, the Brazilian market was off-limits, as the then-state-owned Embraer produced a rival 19-seater called the EMB-110 Bandeirante.
Embraer has moved on to other sectors of the aviation market, and now the Brazilian government operates dozens of aging Bandeirantes that may soon need to be replaced.
Meanwhile, Viking has been active in the greater Latin American region. Since 2011, the company has sold Viking 400s into Peru, Panama and Chile and signed deals to support older Twin Otters operated in Argentina. It also recently signed up five sales representatives to operate around the region, but not until very recently in Brazil.
Last February, Viking Air hired Caporali to lead sales efforts across the region and, in particular, to introduce the Viking 400 into Brazil. Caporali previously managed sales for former Beechcraft dealer Lider Aviacao in Brazil.
Caporali does not expect the Brazilian market to open up to the Viking 400 immediately. The economic crisis facing the Brazilian government could slow interest in replacing the Bandeirante fleet. And government officials still know little about the capabilities of the Twin Otter, he says.
The Viking 400 that made the type’s debut on 11 August at the Latin American Business Aviation Conference and Exhibition represented the only Twin Otter in the country.
“We need to show the capabilities of the aircraft,” Caporali says.
The Viking 400 could prove especially useful in the Amazon region, where the Peruvian government already operates the largest fleet of Twin Otters on the continent, he says.
To that end, Viking Air on 11 August announced that an Amazon region operator, Manaus Aerotaxi Participacoes (MAP), will function as the sales representative for the Viking 400 in Brazil.
MAP currently operates a diverse fleet of aircraft, including the Bandeirante, Aero Commander, Cessna Caravan and Embraer Xingu, as a taxi service for passengers and freight in the Amazon, performing many of the roles that Viking envisions for a Twin Otter.
MAP’s involvement “brings attention for all operators that do these operations the most”, says Caporali.