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de Havilland Canada DHC-2 Beaver


The de Havilland Canada DHC-2 Beaver is a single-engined high-wing propeller-driven short takeoff and landing (STOL) aircraft developed and manufactured by de Havilland Canada. It has been primarily operated as a bush plane and has been used for a wide variety of utility roles, such as cargo and passenger hauling, aerial application (crop dusting and aerial topdressing), and civil aviation duties.

  • Country of origin: Canada
  • Cockpit: 2 pilots
  • Wingspan: 1463cm
  • Empty weight: 1631kg
  • Max take Off Weight: 2186kg
  • Take-off distance: 381 metres
  • Landing distance: 381 metres
  • Max speed: 147kts
  • Range: 520nm

Key features:

• Excellent short take off and landing performance
• Ability to carry large payloads
• Overpowered
• Multi-purpose aircraft

The Beaver DHC-2 is perhaps one of de Havilland Canada’s greatest triumphs. It is an aeroplane designed for pilots, by pilots. The fact that it still sees continuous service, since its maiden flight in 1947, is a testament to how well it performs it’s role.

The de Havilland Canada DHC-2 Beaver was created in the aftermath of the Second World War. Enterprising aircraft manufacturers realised that the imminent need for warplanes was abating, yet they still had the means and the manpower to create machines that were functional and highly useful. The civilian utility market seemed the most obvious choice. Following the successful sale of the original DHC-2, de Havilland developed a more powerful version in the Mark III Turbo Beaver. By the time production ceased they had sold a total of 1657 airframes.

Viking Air of British Columbia purchased the manufacturing certificates of the aircraft, and as of 2006 they have the right to manufacture new aircraft. Spares for the existing DHC-2 are also produced under licence from Viking.

The de Havilland Canada DHC-2 Beaver is a high wing monoplane, single engined aircraft. It has been described as “the best Bush Plane ever built”. With numerous versatile features it is easy to see why. In standard fit the aircraft can accommodate two pilots and a total of 7 passengers. It’s useful load, whether for cargo, passengers, or a mixture of both is around 600kg.

The primary function for which it was designed is as a utility aircraft in remote and hard to reach areas. The aeroplanes manufacture perfectly coincides with the terrain it is expected to operate, namely it is hard and rugged. As a carrier of people and cargo it excels.

One key quality is the short take off and landing (STOL) capability of the aircraft. It was deliberately designed with a large, high wing. When this is combined with its overpowered engine it can climb, fully laden, at around 1000 feet per minute. Its short landing distance is equally impressive. The aircraft’s trailing flaps extend to 58 degree angle giving a huge amount of drag, combined with the aircraft’s ability to manoeuvre at slow speed, this gives huge versatility as to what one would consider a ‘suitable’ field.

Further versatility is added in its ability to literally land almost anywhere. The aircraft was manufactured in such a way as to easily accommodate wheels, skis for landing on frozen plains, or skids for landing on water. Whilst there is slight variation in characteristics depending on configuration, the difference is negligible.

The aircraft’s versatility is enhanced in part due to the fact that pilots were consulted at all stages during its planning and manufacture. This synergy is evident in the physical qualities of the aircraft. Examples of this are, huge rear doors on both sides of the aircraft, meaning the aircraft was not limited as to which side it docked onto a jetty. Furthermore the doors could easily accommodate the loading and unloading of a 55 gallon barrel, in any orientation.

In order to improve handling characteristics and give adaptability the aircraft engine was positioned as far rearward as possible. In anticipation of operating in colder climates an interesting feature unique to the DHC-2 Beaver is the ability to replenish the engine’s oil whilst remaining in the cockpit. Other features not often seen include a single yoke which is moveable to both the left and right hand side of the cockpit.

As you would expect for an aircraft expected to make approaches in adverse weather to short fields, the handling characteristics are light and responsive. The flight manual makes specific mention that the aircraft is easily trimmed to a ‘hands-off’ condition throughout the speed regime. Although when configured with a wheeled fit, the aircraft is a ‘tail dragger’, it has also been noted that it is particularly easy to land, again a highly useful quality especially in adverse weather conditions.

Sources and further reading

https://www.planeandpilotmag.com/article/de-havilland-beaver/#.WQW-R2KGOUl https://web.archive.org/web/20120717002319/http://www.vikingair.com/content.aspx?id=270