It's 56 years since the mighty Twin Otter first took to the Skies
The De-Havilland DHC6 Twin Otter can be found in all parts of the world in from the jungles, deserts, mountains, arctic, to the crystal clear waters of the Maldives.
The rugged reliability and short-take-off-and-landing capabilities allows the Twin Otter to operate anywhere in the world.
All four airlines in the Maldives have interests in the Twin Otter. Trans Maldivian Airways, Maldivian, and Manta Air operate the Twin Otter in float configuration while Villa Air Flyme announced plans to acquire the Twin Otter.
The Twin Otter was designed as a replacement for the single-engine DHC-3 Otter. The development began following the introduction of the PT6A-20 engines in the early 1960s which made the concept of a STOL Twin Engine aircraft more feasible. The Twin Otter took to the skies for the first time on 20th May 1965.
Through the late sixties, three variants of the Twin Otter were released with the 300 series becoming the most popular variant with 614 of the type sold.
The production of the Twin Otter ended entirely in 1988 until Viking Air acquired the type certificates of DHC-1 to DHC-7 in 2006 and began the production of a new Twin Otter series 400 in 2008.
All four series are flown in the Maldives. Older variants of the Twin Otter are preferred as the newer 400 series failed to gain any traction in the Maldives. Viking Air did announce plans to release a special 400S series designed for saltwater operations.
Smooth direct transfer of tourists to resorts was essential as the tourism industry grew rapidly in the Maldives by the late 1990s.
Maldivian Air Taxi first introduced Twin Otters to the Maldives in 1993 in float configuration with two aircraft to operate directly to the resorts. Since then until today the Twin Otter played a vital role in the airline industry of Maldives.
At the time Air Maldives operated only wheel-based aircraft to regional airports while Hummingbird Island Helicopters (Later Trans Maldivian Airways) operated with a fleet of only helicopters.
Realizing the advantage the Twin Otter’s had over Helicopters, Humming Bird Helicopters rebranded as Humming Bird Airways in 1997 and acquired Twin Otters and phased out the helicopter fleet entirely by 1999.
With the merger of Maldivian Air Taxi and Trans Maldivian Airways in 2013, TMA became the largest seaplane operator in the world with a fleet of 57 Twin Otters at present.
National Airline Maldivian commenced Twin Otter seaplane operations in 2014 and Manta Air in 2019.
The Twin Otter would be in the Maldivian sky for years ahead as at present there is no other better aircraft that can potentially replace the Twin Otter.