The Beech 99 recently purchased by Orca Air has a cruising sped of up to 380 km-h.

The Beech 99 recently purchased by Orca Air has a cruising sped of up to 380 km-h.

Faster, bigger plane for Orca Air in Qualicum Beach

New aircraft to double capacity and cut flight times in half

Orca Airways, which services Qualicum Beach Airport, is reporting a large increase in traffic compared to last year and has purchased an aircraft that will double the capacity while cutting flight times in half.

Recently purchased and extensively retrofitted, the Orca Airways Beech 99 will fly between Vancouver International Airport (YVR) and Vancouver Island destinations including Tofino-Long Beach Airport (YAZ) which, according to Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District (ACRD) records, has experienced a 33% increase in air traffic between January and June, 2015, compared to the same period in 2014.

The Orca Airways Beechcraft Model 99, also known as the Beech 99 Airliner and the Commuter 99, is a twin-engine, unpressurized, turboprop aircraft with a cruising speed of up to 205 knots (380 kilometers per hour) at 10,000 feet (3,050 meters), and a range of 910 nautical miles (1,686 kilometers.) In addition to doubling passenger seating capacity, the company said in a news release the Beech 99 halves the current flying time for scheduled routes between Vancouver and Vancouver Island destinations (such as Qualicum Beach and Tofino) currently serviced by Orca Airways’ seven-seat Piper Navajo Chieftain aircraft.

“The Beech 99 in an ideal aircraft to help us address the remarkable increase in demand for regional commuter and leisure passenger service,” said Andrew Naysmith, president and CEO of Orca Airways.

“Our daily service between Vancouver, Qualicum Beach, Tofino and other Vancouver Island airports has become the preferred travel option for many residents and visitors, and we have seen a significant spike in demand in the past two years.  We are very excited to be able to offer our growing number of passengers a faster, larger capacity aircraft option, operated by two crew members at all times.”

Founded in 2005 in Vancouver, Orca Airways provides scheduled passenger service to and from Abottsford, Tofino, Qualicum Beach, Vancouver and Victoria. The company also provides charter, cargo and medevac services throughout North America. For more information about the airline, visit www.flyorcaair.com.

— NEWS Staff/Orca Airways news release

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