April, 1951, Canadian Aviation
by E. F. Clendenan
The Norwegian coastal flying operations of the Scandinavian Airline System were studied by A. J. Spilsbury, general manager of Queen Charlotte Airlines (QCA), Vancouver, during a recent visit to Europe. The Norwegian Aviation Company, or DNL (Det Norske Luftfartselskap), until a short time ago, operated the coastal service from Oslo to the far north. Now DNL has become the domestic section of the Norwegian division of Scandinavian Airlines System (SAS), sponsored by Norway, Sweden and Denmark. A second object of Mr. Spilsbury’s trip was to inspect and try out the Norwegian-designed and built twin-engined amphibian, the “Finnmark.”
His particular interest in the Norwegian service and the Finnmark plane lies in the great similarity of the Norwegian terrain and conditions to that encountered by QCA in giving service from Vancouver to the rugged, indented coastal regions of British Columbia.
The SAS service caters to a much denser population (Trondjheim for instance has 56,000 people) and uses 52-place Sandringham flying boats on the southern division (from Oslo 675 miles north to Tromso via Trondjheim, Boda, and Horst). From Tromso north, around the North Cape, and so to Kerkens, the service uses Junkers JU-52 seaplanes. There are no feeder on non-scheduled services.
North of Tromso, flying is by Visual Flight Rules. The southern division uses a very elaborate system of instrument flying which they have developed. Each Sandringham carries about 1,800 lb. of radio equipment. The system does not use ordinary long-wave range stations, all VHF. They also use an adaptation of the omni-directional range station, and a microwave beam system of landing approach combined with distance measuring equipment. This is supplemented by airborne radar, ground radar, automatic direction finders on medium frequencies, radio-absolute altimeters, and ground direction finding stations.
All this mass of information is registered on two screens. Exact position and distance from point of origin is shown on one, while a radar picture of the terrain is displayed on the other. The information is interpreted by a radio and radar operator and passed to the pilot. The English language is used throughout SAS for communications.
Oslo is several hundred miles farther north than Ketchikan Alaska, and scanty daylight during six months limits this sea-harbour service to the rest of the year. However, plans now call for the retirement of all flying boats by 1952. They are building airports now at all points and by next year hope to give a 12-month service. Meantime the pilots do, in effect, fly all year. The entire staff is on a yearly basis. While actual flying is suspended, pilots are given intensive training on Link trainers with every navigational aid to simulate all the ports of call. Meantime the equipment is given the most rigorous overhauling in the SAS Stavanger depot. All land planes are serviced at Oslo.
The Finnmark plant is at Oslo. Only the prototype of the aircraft has been produced, but Mr. Spilsbury found it very interesting. Such a plane would fit well on feeder services when SAS converts its coastal service to land craft and has interesting possibilities for the type of work encountered in handling some of the QCA traffic. The plane resembles the Grumman Mallard in size and appearance. It can be varied up to 14 passenger seats and differs from most flying boats by using sponsons, (projections extending from the sides of the hull), instead of wingtip floats. It has a big hull and appealed to Mr. Spilsbury as being in all respects very rugged and suitable for the work intended, if not too high in price.
The Canadian visitor was surprised to find in Norway so much knowledge of his own company and of the Canadian flying scene in general until he found that Canadian Aviation has a number of readers in Norwegian air circles.
This article originally appeared in the April, 1951 edition of Canadian Aviation magazine.