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A first for Arctic Sunwest

Stephan Burnett
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Mar 31/04) - The Canadian-built Buffalo de Haviland aircraft gracing the tarmac next to the Arctic Sunwest hangar is the first civilian model of its kind in the country.

NNSL photo

Marvin Robinson sits in the cockpit of his new Buffalo de Haviland aircraft. Sunwest's purchase is the first civilian model of its kind in Canada. - Stephan Burnett/NNSL photo

The aircraft hauls 18,000 pounds worth of goods, with a take off capacity of 3,000 feet of ground as opposed to the 5,000 feet required by a Hercules, a larger transport aircraft.

The civilian model of the Buffalo is more powerful than its military counterpart, is newer than the military model and weighs more, resulting in a higher payload.

Although the Buffalo does not have the payload capacity of a Hercules, its shorter take off requirement supplies it with the versatility required for Northern markets, said Arctic Sunwest owner/partner Marvin Robinson.

The aircraft built in 1981 represents a U.S. $5 million dollar investment by Arctic Sunwest, and Robinson says another Buffalo de Haviland is expected on the tarmac this December.

"It's a huge investment in the Northern market. In an airplane, there's about a 10-year time span on each plane before they pay for themselves," said Robinson. A crew from Arctic Sunwest travelled to Nairobi, Africa, to pick up the plane. It took approximately seven days to get back to Yellowknife.

Arctic Sunwest has already received expressions of interest from exploration and other companies interested in utilizing the plane. Arctic Sunwest currently has 15 fixed-wing aircraft in its fleet and five helicopters leased to Great Slave Helicopters.