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Aircraft of the Month - de Havilland Canada DHC-3 Otter

The Otter aircraft has many applications due to its high rate of climb and Short Take Off and Landing (STOL) capabilities. It is a popular plane for regional routes, short-haul cargo delivery and more recently, skydiving outfits and military paratroop operations. But for our Aircraft of the Month feature, we will focus on the sea-ready version of the aircraft, used in the booming floatplane industry in British Columbia. Specifically, we will take a look at Harbour Air’s signature aircraft, the DHC-3 Single Otter.

The floatplane industry has a long, storied history in British Columbia due to the province's unique terrain, the lack of winter freezing in key areas and vital cities with water access (Victoria and Tofino). Floatplanes were initially used in the 1920s and 1930s to supplement naval efforts during wartime.

Operators: Harbour Air, RCMP, Kenmore Air, Westcoast Air, United States Air Force, Army and Navy as well as airborne military outfits from countries worldwide.
Manufacturer: de Havilland
Country: Canada
First Flight: December 12, 1951
Maximum Operating Altitude: 18,800 ft (5,730 m)
Operating Range: 945 miles (1,520 km)
Crew: 1
Passenger Capacity: 9-10
Maximum Speed: 160 mph (257 km/h)
Cruise Speed: 121 mph (195 km/h)
Engine: 1 Pratt & Whitney R-1340-S1H1-G Wasp
Height: 3.83 m
Length: 12.80 m
Wingspan: 17.69 m
Wing Area: 34.84 m²
Weight (Empty): 4,431 lbs. (2,010 kg)
Maximum Take-off Weight: 8,000 lbs. (3,629 kg)
Maximum Take-off Weight: 64,500 lbs. (29,260 kg)
Rate of Climb: 850 ft/min (4.3 m/s)

Did You Know? The amphibious floatplane Otter features a unique four-unit retractable undercarriage, with wheels retracting into the floats. Of the 41 aircraft in the Harbour Air fleet, 21 are DHC-3 Otters, making it the most commonly flown aircraft in their fleet. Otters are used in air force operations by countries as far away as Ghana, Tanzania, New Zealand, Argentina, Cambodia and the United Kingdom.



  • Jim Jorgenson wrote on Aug 15 2013 AT 3:57 PM

    Your title page headlines the Twin Otter, but shows a photo of a single turbo Otter, and the detailed specifications indicate a single engine Otter with a wasp non-turbine engine.  These are three different versions of the Otter. Contact me if you need help with any photos.
  • YVR Airport wrote on Aug 15 2013 AT 4:11 PM

    Thanks for that Jim, we had originally planned on doing the twin and then changed our minds, which resulted in the mixup. Hopefully it's good now. Nice catch and thanks for the heads up!
  • James wrote on Aug 15 2013 AT 5:10 PM

    I have been flying  my dHO for years in the bush. An amazing workhorse
  • Ian Fisher wrote on Aug 15 2013 AT 9:45 PM

    The specs are still for the piston-engined version of the plane but almost all seem to have been converted to turboprops, like the one in the photo, gaining the long nose in the process. I'm quite certain that all the Harbour Air Otters are such "Turbo Otters."
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