Otter 406 was delivered to the Union of Burma Air Force on 21st November 1961 with serial UB 657. The Air Force took delivery of nine Otters, three in December 1958 and a further batch of six in 1960/61. All were packed into crates and shipped to Burma, where they were re-assembled and entered service. Burma was subsequently re-named Myanmar. Its Air Force aircraft were re- serialled, adopting Burmese numerals, equivalent of the old serial with a '4' prefix and deleting the UB. Thus, UB 657 became 4657, depicted on the side of the aircraft in Burmese numerals. The Burmese Otters were withdrawn from service in 1985 and stored. In 1989 six of the Burmese Otters were purchased by Mr Trevor Ross of Vancouver. Five were located at Mingaladon Air Base and one at Hmawbi Air Base. All six were shipped to Vancouver where they were stored in the Aeroflite Industries hangar at the International Airport and offered for sale. They had all arrived at Vancouver by early December 1989.
The buyer of Otter 406 was Fallskarmsklubben Aros (The Aros Parachute Club) of Sweden, as a replacement for Turbo Beaver SE-IYC which they had previously used. They arranged for Aeroflite Industries to convert the aircraft to a Vazar turbine Otter, the total cost of the purchase and conversion being 4.7 million Swedish Crowns. It was first noted at Vancouver carrying Swedish marks SE-KOX on 2nd May 1990, was officially registered on 15th May 1990 and departed Vancouver on its delivery flight the following day for a very speedy, three day delivery flight (16 to 18 May 1990) to Sweden. There were three pilots on board. To increase range, nine fuel drums had been installed in the cabin and connected to the centre tank. An electric pump was used to transfer fuel, with a manual pump as back up. Each drum was good for one hour ten minutes flying time.
The ferry routing was from Vancouver across the Rocky Mountains to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan for a night stop and then across northern Manitoba for another fuel stop at Churchill. From there the Otter proceeded across Hudson Bay to Frobisher Bay on Baffin Island to refuel, then passing across the Davis Strait to Sondre Stromfjord, Greenland. By this stage the crew must have been feeling somewhat tired, but they pressed on over the ice cap and kept going until they reached Reykjavik, Iceland where after 27 hours flying a night stop was called. The delivery was completed the next day, 18th May 1990, in a nine hour flight from Reykjavik to the Otter's new home, the airfield at Johannisberg near the town of Västerås, on the north side of Lake Malaren in Sweden. The aircraft's total airframe time on delivery was 5,323 hours.SE-KOX has been based at Johannisberg flying for the parachute club since its arrival in Sweden. It has visited other airfields around Sweden on 'parachute boogies' and usually deploys for a week's summer camp to Karlsborg or Orland. The club has some 250 members and also flies a Cessna 182 SE-CYL alongside the Otter. All maintenance is carried out by Bromma Air Maintenance at Stockholm's Bromma Airfield. The only incident with the Otter took place in August 1997 when one undercarriage leg collapsed on landing at Johannisberg. A bolt holding the shock absorber had split and came off on touchdown, resulting in a buckled fuselage frame and damage to a wing tip and aileron. After temporary repairs on site, the Otter was flown to Bromma and repaired at a cost of 280,000 Swedish crowns. It was back in service in November 1997.
The Otter's total time by June 2001 had risen to 9,295 hours, giving an average yearly utilisation of 360 hours. The Otter flies year round but the bulk of the flying takes place during the summer.
During summer weekends, operations are particularly hectic, when the Otter is flying from nine in the morning to nine in the evening, often achieving 24 jumps a day. The interior has been stripped so that it can carry up to 18 parachutists. The preferred altitude for a jump is 13,000 feet and it takes the Otter about twenty five minutes circling overhead the airfield to attain this height. As of summer 2004, was still active at Johannisberg, having the honour of being Europe's only active Otter.
After many years service in Europe, the Otter was purchased by Wipaire in February 2005 and ferried to its base at St. Paul, Minnesota as N406H. It was then sold to Harbour Air in Vancouver and registered to its new owners as C-FHAH in January 2006. It was ferried to Vancouver in March 2006 and having been overhauled and repainted it entered service with Harbour Air, fleet number 314. The opportunity arose to place the Otter on a contract in Malta that summer, but there was insufficient time to make all the necessary arrangements and the deployment to Malta was postponed to the following year. Early in 2007 procedures were undertaken to increase the aircraft’s gross weight to 9,000 pounds for the Malta contract. Malta is an island in the Mediterranean and for many years there had been a helicopter service connecting Valetta, the capital, with the outlying island of Gozo, a popular tourist destination. The helicopter operation proved very expensive and Harbour Air combined with local interests to provide the Otter as a replacement. By May 2007 the Otter was ready to be ferried to Malta on wheels, the floats and all necessary spares and equipment for the operation being shipped to Malta in a container. Flown by two ferry pilots, C-FHAH departed Vancouver on 14th May 2007, its routing being to Calgary (Springbank)-Flin Flon, Manitoba-Churchill-Iqaluit-Sondre Stromfjord-Reykjavik-Prestwick, where it arrived on 21st May, -Duxford-MarseilleLuqa, Malta where it arrived on 24th May. It was then put on amphibious floats and undertook the necessary local test flying for the operation to achieve Maltese certification. The Canadian registration was cancelled on 18th July 2007 and the Otter registered 9H-AFA to Harbour Air (Malta) Ltd. The scheduled service commenced on 23 rd July 2007 and for the summer season involved five daily flights connecting the Valetta Sea Passenger Terminal, Malta with Mgarr Harbour, Gozo, where the Otter arrives at Pontoon F. Flight time is twenty minutes and the new service has proved most popular, being much cheaper than the previous helicopter operation.
To be updated.
Full history up to 2005 courtesy of Karl E Hayes © from DHC-3 Otter - A History (CD-ROM 2005)