DHC-3 Otter Archive Master Index

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c/n 458

C-FAZX at Laval - St. François, Québec.
Photo: Karl E. Hayes © May 2004
Photo: Jan Koppen © Date unknown
Photo: Norm Denis © October 2011
C-FAZX working at Gouin in a crisp -20C.
Photo:Simon Contant © early 2018
C-FAZX at Laval, Québec.
Photo:Simon Contant © 13 April 2018
C-FAZX awaits a task.
Photo: Sharon Leduc © 26 June 2022

c/n 458

(A-704) • CF-AZX



• (A-704) Used, with this ground instruction serial  as a ground instructional airframe for training Tanzanian Air Force aircraftsmen at RCAF Camp Borden, ON. From Mar-1966. (See narrative below).

• CF-AZX de Havilland Aircraft Canada, Downsview, ON. Canadian Certificate of Airworthiness issued on 6th April 1971. Regd 15-Apr-1971.

• CF-AZX Northern Wings Ltd., (Les Ailes du Nord) of Sept Îles, QC. Regd Apr-1971 (A subsidiary of Québecair).

• CF-AZX Air Fecteau Ltée., Date unknown. (A subsidiary of Québecair).

• C-FAZX Propair Inc., Rouyn, QC. Regd 03-May 1982. (Merged with Air Fecteau). Canx 10-Jun-1988.

• C-FAZX Alexandair Inc., Sept Îles, Lac des Rapides, QC. Regd 08-Jun-1988. Canx 30-Mar-1994 when company went under.

• C-FAZX Air Wilga Inc., (a leasing company,. Laval, QC. Purchased from liquidator of Alexandair. Regd 05-May-1994.

• C-FAZX Leased to Aviation Port-Neuf Ltée., Lac St. Augustine, QC. Regd 03-Aug-1994. Canx 03-Sep-1997.

• C-FAZX Leased to Air Saguenay (1980) Inc., Chicoutimi, QC. Regd 03-Sep-1997. Canx 26-Jun-1998.

• C-FAZX Leased to Aero Golfé Ltée., Havre St. Pierre, QC. Regd 26-Jun-1998. Canx 30-Sep-1998.

• C-FAZX Leased to Johnny May’s Air Charter Ltd., Dorval, QC. Based Kuujjuag, QC. Regd 02-Oct-11998. Canx 07-Oct-1998.

• C-FAZX Returned to Air Wilga, Laval, QC. Regd 19-Oct-1998. Canx & re regd 21-Jun-2001. Canx 16-Aug-2002.

Power plant Converted to the ill fated Orenda V8 piston engine. The second example. (See narrative below).

• C-FAZX Leased from  Air Saguenay (1980) Inc., Jonquière, QC. Based Laval. Regd 16-Aug-2002. Canx 06-Nov-2002.

• C-FAZX. Laval Aviation Ltee., Laval, QC. (An associate company of Air Wilga who retained ownership). Regd 06-Nov 2002.  Canx 10-Jan-2003.

• C-FAZX Leased to Propair Inc., Rouyn- Noranda, QC. Based Laval-St. François, QC. Operated by Air Wimindji, Wimindji, QC. Regd 10-Jan-2003. Canx 17-May-2003.

Note. This lease did not actually commence as the aircraft with its Orenda had its Certificate of Airworthiness cancelled. (See narrative below.). The aircraft remained stored at Laval St .Francois airfield, adorned with Air Wemindji titles.

• C-FAZX Returned to ownership of Air Wilga. Canx 18-Nov-2003.

• C-FAZX Formally registered as Laval Aviation Ltée., Laval, QC, being the owner. Regd 18-Nov-2003. As at Dec-2007 the Otter was still in storage at Laval. Canx 20-Oct-2014.

Noted in Oct 2011 with Air Contant markings. And later, date unknown, with Air Tunilik and Contant markings. The relationship between, Laval, Wimindji, Tunilik & Contant is currently unclear.

• C-FAZX Air Tunilik Inc., Laval, QC. Regd 22-Oct-2014. Canx 31-Mar-2016. Re regd 15-Jun-2016.

Note. Aircraft converted back to R1340 in early 2018.


Note: Contant Aviation, Laval - St. Francois, is a private airfield so there is no regulation. It has been there for many years. The 4,000-foot general aviation airstrip is sometimes referred to as Laval Aviation. Situated adjacent to three docks on the shore of the Mille Îles river, the aerodrome consists of several small hangars that can accommodate about three-dozen single- and twin-engine aircraft, including several amphibious planes equipped with pontoons which enable them to land on water and moor at the airport’s docks on shore of the Mille Îles river.

From  Quebec Bush-planes 2016 The Montréal area - by Jan Koppen

Cheers Jan

Otter 458 was one of eight Otters built by DHC on foot of an order from the United Nations (UN) given to DHC in December 1964. The Otters were intended for use by the UN in West Irian, a very underdeveloped part of Indonesia. The Otters were to have been used to develop air transportation in the region, so that UN officials could move around and assist with the development of the area. Otters 451 to 454 and 458 to 461 were the eight aircraft procured at a cost of $1,060,000 and they had been completed at Downsview by March 1965.

However, following strong diplomatic representations from Britain, concerned that the Otters might end up used for other purposes, used by Indonesia in its confrontation with Malaysia, the Canadian External Affairs minister vetoed the sale and the eight Otters were held in storage at Downsview. They were painted all grey with the serial of each on the tail but no other markings. Accordingly another use had to be found for these aircraft and an opportunity presented itself in April 1965 when the Canadian government was requested to provide assistance to Tanzania in establishing an Air Wing. In September 1965 the Canadian government announced its proposals for a five year programme costing nine million dollars. This included the eight Otters as well as four DHC-4 Caribous, with support equipment and spares. The Canadians would also assist with the training of 400 air and ground crew, 200 of which would be trained in Canada.

Training was provided to the Tanzanian personnel at Camp Borden, Ontario and RCAF Otter 3681 (39) was stationed there from October 1965 to March 1966 for this purpose. The eight Otters were painted into Tanzanian marks by DHC, with three to be retained in Canada for the training and the other five flown to Tanzania on RCAF Hercules aircraft. Otter 458 was delivered to the Tanzanian Air Force with serial 9105 on 10 March 1966. It was one of the three to be retained in Canada for the training programme and was transported from Downsview to Camp Borden for use as a ground instructional airframe, number A704.

The training at Camp Borden continued until June 1969 after which the three Otters (451, 458 and 461) went to the RCAF base at Trenton, Ontario where they were stored. By December 1969 they were at the Mountain View depot where they were packed into crates ready to be shipped to Tanzania. That never happened however as apparently they were not needed there and the three Otters were returned to DHC at Downsview never having left Canada. These three Otters were then sold by DHC to buyers in Canada.

The buyer of Otter 458 was a company called Atlas Acceptance Corporation of Toronto, to whom the Otter was registered as CF-AZX in January 1971. It was noted in the Flight Test Hangar at Downsview on 18 February 1971, having been re-assembled, but still in its Tanzanian Air Force markings. It was sold on to Northern Wings Ltd (Les Ailes de Nord) of Sept Îles, Québec to whom it was registered on 15 April 1971, having received its Certificate of Airworthiness on 6 April 1971, and having been painted in the colours of its new owner.

Otter AZX went into service alongside the company’s other Otters, serving the many coastal communities along the North Shore of the Gulf of St.Lawrence. It suffered storm damage at Chevery in the autumn of 1977 but was repaired. Northern Wings was a subsidiary of Quebecair and the Otter continued to fly for this company until March 1978 when the Northern Wings Otters were taken over by Air Fecteau Ltee, another Québecair subsidiary. AZX continued to serve the North Shore communities with Air Fecteau. In 1981 Air Fecteau merged with La Sarre Air Service to form Propair Inc., to whom AZX was registered in May 1982, all the while continuing its operations from the Sept Îles base. The Québecair timetable for 1982 shows the following Otter services operated by Propair:

Monday and Friday     Route  #941  La Tabatière (depart 0920)-Tete a la Baleine-Harrington Harbour/Chevery-Gethsamanie/La Romaine-Kegaska-Natashquan (arrive 1110).  Route #940  Natashquan (depart 1245) same route as above in reverse, arrive La Tabatiere 1615.

As well as these scheduled services the Otters also flew charters.

In 1988 it was arranged for a company called Alexandair Inc., to take over the North Shore commuter and feeder service, which would operate on behalf of Inter-Canadian, the successor to Québecair Inc. In June 1988 Propair transferred to Alexandair its three Otters based at Sept Iles, CF-AZX (458), CF-EYY (19) and CF-JZN (205) all of which were registered to Alexandair Inc. They were painted into the company’s colours of yellow upper fuselage and wings, dark blue cheatline and lighter blue lower fuselage. They continued operations on floats from the Lac des Rapides water base at Sept Îles.

In 1993 Alexandair lost the Inter-Canadian contract and as a result had to be considerably downsized and restructured. All of its Otters except one were sold. AZX was sold in March 1994 to Air Wilga Inc., of Laval, Québec , a company which specialised in leasing out Otters to operators and it would be leased to several operators in Québec over the years that followed. It was first leased to Aviation Portneuf Ltée of Lac St.Augustin in August 1994, operated in basic Alexandair colour scheme but with Aviation Portneuf titles.

Subsequent lessees were Air Saguenay (1980) Inc., of Lac St.Sebastien in September 1997 and then Aero Golfe Ltée of Havre St.Pierre in June 1998, then Johnny May’s Air Charter of Fort Chimo for a few weeks in October 1998 before it reverted to Air Wilga at the end of October 1998 at the conclusion of the lease. During March / April 2000 AZX was converted with an Orenda V8 engine, the second Otter to be converted with this engine, Air Wilga’s other Otter C-FEYY (19) having been the first. It took a while for a new lease to be negotiated but on 16 August 2002 AZX was registered to Air Saguenay (1980) inc of Lac St.Sébastien and flew for this company during the autumn of 2002, on lease from Air Wilga.

On conclusion of the lease it was registered to Laval Aviation Ltée, an associated company of Air Wilga, on 6 November 2002 and was in storage at Laval St.Francis airfield for November and December 2002. A lease was then arranged to Air Wemindji of Wemindji in northern Quebec, for which AZX was registered to Propair Inc on 10 January 2003 for operation on behalf of Air Wemindji. The Otter was still in basic Alexandair colour scheme but acquired Air Wemindji fuselage titles. AZX then headed north to the remote area around James Bay which was Air Wemindji’s area of operations. It was to fly for Air Wemindji while its own Otter C-FKLC (255) was being converted to a turbine. A number of incidents were recorded on CADORS while AZX was flying for Air Wenindji:

20 January 2003.  Air Inuit Dash 8 on flight AIE 441 received a TCAS advisory on final approach to runway 13 at La Grande Rivière. The traffic was on the runway or the ramp. Air Wemindji advised Air Traffic Services that its crew was conducting avionics maintenance on Otter AZX parked on the ramp. This might have been the cause of the false TCAS alarm.

29 January 2003.  While taxying at La Grande Rivière the pilot of Air Wemindji Otter AZX informed the FSS of a problem with the tail wheel, which jammed during a turn. The pilot solved the problem himself in a matter of minutes.

11 February 2003.   Because of a problem with the tail wheel during the take-off run at La Grande Rivière, ski-equipped Otter AX made a sharp left turn and went off the runway, stopping forty feet off its outer edge. Neither occupant was hurt and the Otter did not sustain any damage, but it did take a while for the aircraft to receive assistance and be cleared from the runway. Inspection revealed that the tail wheel centring system was not working correctly. After the tail wheel engine was heated, the system worked normally.

26 February 2003.  The Otter was on final approach for runway 31 at La Grande Rivière airport when it informed FSS that it was unable to retract its skis to land on the runway. The pilot decided to land on the old runway which was located two miles south of La Grande Riviere, where he landed without incident.

At that stage something of a disaster struck the Orenda engine project. The owners of the Orenda Recip Inc., company decided to close the company down as it had failed in commercial terms to successfully exploit the Orenda engine. Even though the engine had been certified for use in the Otter by Transport Canada, the fact that the manufacturer of the engine was no longer in business and was no longer in a position to support the engine and accept responsibility for it, led to the withdrawal of certification. This in turn led to the grounding of the two Otters which had been converted with this engine, EYY and AZX, both owned by Air Wilga.

The lease of AZX to Air Wemindji had to be terminated and it was flown back to its base at Laval St.Francis where it was put into storage, still adorned with Air Wemindji titles but no longer airworthy due to the withdrawal of certification for its engine. On 18 November 2003 the registered owner was changed to Laval Aviation Ltd., but AZX remained in storage at St.Francois airfield, awaiting a decision on its future. It was to remain there for many years.

During 2007 Trace Engines of Midland, Texas completed the purchase of all technology rights in respect of the Orenda engine and started manufacturing engines, so there was again the prospect that Otter AZX could resume flying. By that stage the other Orenda Otter EYY had been sold to Harbour Air for conversion to a Vazar turbine, so that AZX was the sole Orenda Otter and it remained in storage at its Laval base. In September 2008 AZX was advertised for sale, with 13,000 hours on the airframe. A price of US$957,933 was sought (which equated with CAD$1,111,111). A sale did not materialise and the Otter remained in store at Laval. One change occurred however when the Air Wemindji titles were removed from the aircraft and replaced with Air Contant titles. Clement Contant was the owner of Air Wilga and Laval Aviation.

Over the winter of 2011 / 2012 the original Orenda engine was removed and replaced by a freshly overhauled TRACE engine. In July 2012 a few test flights were carried out, the first time the Otter had flown after nearly ten years on the ground. That summer AZX put up an extra fifteen hours flying on a private fishing trip to the James Bay area. It was still in Alexandair colour scheme with Air Contant titles.

In 2014 Clement Contant and his son Simon bought Tunilik Adventures, an outfitter specialising in bear and caribou hunting in northern Quebec, as well as its air arm, Air Tunilik, which used Beavers to fly its customers. On 20 October 2014 the registration of Otter AZX to Laval Aviation Ltée was cancelled and it was registered that day to Air Tunilik and went on lease to that company. It then set off for northern Québec to fly the hunters during the hunting season, which was Air Tunilik’s first use of an Otter, and AZX’s first commercial activity for many years. AZX flew again for Air Tunilik for summer 2016, flying out of the Pourvoirie le Mirage base in the James Bay area. It returned to Laval on 11 October 2016 and was again used by Air Tunilik during 2017, its last flight of the season being on 8 October 2017 when it returned to Laval.

Over the winter of 2017 / 2018 the Otter went into the hangar at Laval and had its TRACE engine removed. At one stage consideration was given to have a turbine engine put on the Otter but in the end it was decided to re-engine the Otter with its original R-1340 piston engine.  At that stage Otter C-FJZN (205) was at Recon Air in Geraldton being converted to a turbine, so the owners of Air Tunilik bought its R-1340 engine and during March 2018 this engine was installed on AZX, so that it again became a standard “classic” Otter. The owners also bought the R-1340 engine from Otter C-FSUB (8) which was also being converted as a turbine, and which would be a spare engine for them.  Otter AZX was repainted into an overall yellow scheme, with a red tail logo, the registration in red on the fuselage side and airtunilik.com fuselage titles.

In April 2018, on wheel skis, AZX set off from Laval for remote northern Québec on behalf of outfitters Pourvorie Escapade and was noted visiting La Grande Riviere. It was based at Waskaganish for the spring goose hunt.

To be updated. Has Yukon Door now.

Full history up to 2005 courtesy of Karl E Hayes © from DHC-3 Otter - A History (CD-ROM 2005), now with added and updated information which Karl has supplied for the benefit of the website.