Solomon Airlines chief executive Brett Gebers says the recent refurbishment of a de Havilland Canada DHC-6-300 Twin Otter is a source of great pride for all involved.
The Twin Otter H4-NNP was recently repainted, given a new interior and reupholstered seats. Also, the fuel tanks were replaced and some damaged panels repaired alongside work to prevent corrosion.
The complete overhaul of the Twin Otter was conducted by Solomon Airlines’ maintenance staff, who were wholly responsible for the refurbishment of the aircraft’s interiors, reupholstering of the seats and the repainting of the aircraft, as well as two engineers hired from Air Niugini.
Aircraft services company Ikhana Aviation Services, which specialises in rebuilding Twin Otters, oversaw the four-month project.
Gebers said the airline was very pleased with the outcome.
“The end result looks exceptionally good and many of our customers have commented that it is great to travel in a clean and new smelling aircraft,” Gebers said in a statement to Australian Aviation.
“The aircraft is a sign of higher standards to come for Solomon Airlines and is the collective result of Ikhana’s team who worked 10 hour days, six days a week for four months, together with input from the Air Niugini engineers on site for over two months and the excellent refurbishment work of our own team.”
Gebers said what made the project particularly noteworthy was the additional challenges involved, such as the difficulty in getting parts.
“Most of the parts and tools for this work were shipped to us from the USA,” Gebers said.
“So while we successfully achieved the project outcome, we also refined our processes and everyone is now better positioned to make significant repairs to the Twin Otters should the need ever be required.
“We are very happy to know that this aircraft has been properly repaired and refurbished and will operate safely and efficiently for a number of years to come.”
Solomon Airlines has a fleet of four DHC-6-300 Twin Otters, one Dash 8-100 and one Airbus A320.
In addition to domestic destinations throughout the Solomon Islands, the airline also serves Brisbane, Port Vila and Nadi from its Honiara hub.
Solomon Airlines has said previously it was evaluating replacing its A320, with the lease due to expire in the first quarter of 2020, Travel Weekly reported in July.
Gebers said Solomon Airlines was in the process of “gradually enhancing our domestic and international fleet as part of broader strategy for the airline”.
Further, the airline intended to pick up a completely rebuilt Twin Otter from Ikhana in the near future, which would have an additional 1,500lb takeoff weight. This would open up “greater operational efficiencies” for the airline, Gebers said.