New Skybus Plane Starts Journey From Canada

The new Skybus Twin Otter in Calgary before its journey

The newest Skybus plane has started its epic 4,500 mile journey from Calgary in Canada.

The journey to the UK will take around six days and involve 26 hours of flying, including stops in Greenland and Iceland.

The company’s fourth Twin Otter completed its first 457-mile leg to La Ronge in Saskatchewan on Thursday morning and was expected to make the 1,400 mile flight across Hudson Bay to the arctic city of Iqaluit yesterday.

Because the aircraft has a normal range of around 650 miles, it’s been fitted with a giant fuel tank holding 1,500lbs of fuel and taking up half the space inside the 19-seat passenger cabin. This will increase its range by around 500 miles, allowing it to make the long sea crossings.

It is being flown by Canada-based pilot Doug Cochrane, a veteran Twin Otter pilot of British Antarctic Survey expeditions, accompanied by Mick Yould, engineering manager at Skybus who has been in Canada since 19th March preparing the aircraft for its flight.

Mick, who is normally based at Land’s End Airport, said it’s a bit like the pioneering days of aviation. But he’s looking forward to the journey, especially the bit when they touch down at Land’s End.

Chief executive, Jeff Marston, chief executive of the Isles of Scilly Steamship Group, said this is a significant investment for the company.

It took them six months to find a suitable plane, after rejecting examples from as far away as Indonesia. And the one they chose has had a complete refit, including installation of the low visibility navigational system, EGNOS, which is now fitted to all four of the company’s Twin Otters.

The extra fuel tank fitted in the passenger cabin

The extra fuel tank fitted in the passenger cabin

The company is leasing the £3m plane for three years with an option to buy at the end of that period. They’ve also recruited new crew, who are undergoing the final stages of training, and they hope to have the new plane in service by the end of the month.

Jeff says the aircraft will make a big difference to their operations, giving extra flexibility on the routes from Exeter, Newquay and Land’s End

You can track the progress of the new plane here.

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