Featured Image: Simone Chellini/Airways

Trip Report: Flying Widerøe’s Dash 8 to Leknes

DALLAS – Welcome to the 2024 European Capital of Culture, Bodø (BOO). Today, we are hopping on board Widerøe’s (WF) Bombardier Dash 8-100, flying to the Leknes (LKN) in the beautiful Lofoten Islands. At just 20 minutes, this short hop demonstrates the need to connect small villages in Norway via airplane. 

Taking a ferry to cover the same trip would have taken around four hours, while a flight would take less than 10% of that travel time.

Bodø Airport’s departure and arrival lounge
Bodø Airport’s departure and arrival lounge. Photo: Simone Chellini/Airways

Widerøe has mastered these unique short flights, with a fleet of 26 Dash 8-100/200 turboprops connecting small villages that would be hard to reach by car or ferry. On some routes, WF benefits from government subsidies. 

The public contribution aims to lower airfares by up to 50% and increase capacity on vital connections to larger Norwegian cities, including our flight today.

Widerøe check-in desks
Widerøe check-in desks. Photo: Simone Chellini/Airways

Check-in

We arrived at the airport around two hours before the flight, which turned out to be an overkill given the incredible efficiency in BOO. The airport features a unified departures/arrivals lounge, with a few check-in desks and new automatic machines. Here, WF has its arrival service desks and dedicated check-in counters.

Widerøe’s history
Widerøe’s history. Photo: Simone Chellini/Airways

I printed my boarding pass to keep it in my collection and headed to the security line, where I was the only passenger. After security, the airport placed a statue of Viggo Widerøe, founder of Widerøe in 1934.

Immediately next to this tribute to one of the fathers of Norwegian aviation, I could spot some Dash 8s wearing the airline’s new livery.

Dash 8-100 engine
Dash 8-100 engine. Photo: Simone Chellini/Airways

A staff member saw me taking pictures of the aircraft, LN-WIU, a 30-year-old Dash 8-100, and invited me airside to get closer to the airframe. This aircraft wears WF’s new livery, featuring the Norwegian mountains and a brighter green palette. The same branding is integrated with the celebratory 90-year-old graphics on board.

A few gates are found on the right, while all shops and jetbridges are in a larger departure hall. This area has a few shops and restaurants, a souvenir shop, and plenty of seating space. The area was calm at the time of my visit, however, in a few days, it would have been crowded with tourists boarding larger aircraft to major Norwegian cities.

Dash 8-100 cabin
Dash 8-100 cabin. Photo: Simone Chellini/Airways

Cabin

I connected to the airport’s Wi-Fi and checked the gate through Widerøe’s app. The app is one of the best I have seen: all the information is readily available and intuitively placed. There is no seat allocation on such short flights, meaning passengers can sit anywhere in the cabin.

My seat today was even more special. I had the pleasure of joining Captain Kurt Albertsen on board this flight in the cockpit. The Dash 8 is equipped with one jump seat, which can be extended above the cockpit’s entry to provide room for an examiner or, in my case, additional passengers.

LN-WIW
LN-WIW Widerøe Dash 8-100. Photo: Simone Chellini/Airways

The Aircraft

The aircraft is LN-WIW, a 26.9-year-old Dash 8-100. It entered service in 1997. Flying for Ryukyu Air Commuter in Japan, it joined WF in June 2019. The cabin is equipped with 39 seats in a 2-2 layout. The front row faces backwards, creating a four-seat living room and granting enough space to access the emergency exit.

I sat down and fastened my seat belt. The back of the seat consists of the cockpit’s door, equipped with padding for comfort. The cockpit is quite spacious, and I could even fit my large camera backpack under the seat. 

I wore the headset and checked communication with the crew. The captain and first officer started their checklist, and we switched both engines on in no time.

Approaching Leknes
Dash 8-100 cockpit. Photo: Simone Chellini/Airways

Departure

There was no need for pushback, as the Dash 8 can steer within a relatively short radius. We taxied to the runway’s half-span, which was enough to take off.

It is hard to describe the incredible views we saw from the cockpit. The city of Bodø could be seen to our right, with its iconic landscapes well-lit in the morning light. We headed north towards Leknes, which would be the northernmost point I have ever visited in my life.

The Dash 8-100 cockpit is mainly analogic, and it was satisfying to hear the countless sounds emitted by the onboard instruments when toggled. The displays and flight management system include the artificial horizon, navigation and autopilot toggle. Information such as flap deployment, oil pressure, fuel level and more are displayed by analogic dials.

Runway ahead
Runway ahead. Photo: Simone Chellini/Airways

Approaching Leknes

During the flight, we had a great chat with the cabin crew about flying the Dash to some of the world's most beautiful – and challenging – airfields. WF provides an essential service to Norwegian citizens, who would otherwise be isolated from most infrastructures.

The approach in Leknes was as beautiful as the take-off from BOO. We flew above a fjord featuring the characteristic red Norwegian houses, flying between the mountains. We approached the city of Leknes and had the runway in clear sight in front of us, together with miles and miles of green hills and mountains.

Our Dash 8-100 in Leknes
Our Dash 8-100 in Leknes. Photo: Simone Chellini/Airways

Landing in Leknes

We landed on time after a great landing from the first officer, who smoothly touched down in LKN. We taxied to the apron next to the runway with the view of WF’s Dash 8-400 taking off for Bergen (BGO).

Today’s weather conditions were as good as they can be. There was no wind, we had clear skies, and it was a smooth and pleasant flight. However, the region face harsh winter weather, including snow, hail and strong winds. 

To cope with this challenging climate, the airline has established its maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) service in BOO, providing essential support to its fleet. The airline has the in-house expertise to fix most issues, from propeller anti-icing devices to engine components.  

This was a memorable flight on board the smallest aircraft I have ever flown. Being in the cockpit was a unique opportunity to discuss the airline’s operations with the captain and first officer and enjoy a unique landscape. 

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