Viking Air’s Future Super Scooper Plans

Having officially acquired the Bombardier CL-215/-415 business on October 1, 2016 Canadian aerospace company, Viking Air has been coy about its future plans for the water-bomber.  Until the Tangent Link’s Search and Rescue (SAR) International Conference that is.

Viking Air’s Christian Bergeron told the author, “We have spent time rebuilding confidence in the customer’s support functions.  Significant investment has been made in building spare parts and assembling a new team.

Yesterday we had a meeting with our customer base in Europe, which went very well.  We received exceptional feedback on the aircraft.  We also met our North American clients earlier in the week. There is still a lot do but we want to go further than it was before [the acquisition of the -215/415 from Bombardier].

“That is our fundamental objective and mission, to confirm how positive we are about the aircraft and demonstrate commitment.

“We are talking to customers to see the medium and long term vision for the aircraft. We understand that there is a short to medium need for aircraft and a positioning for longer term. 

We were asked if we were going to restart production.  However, because of the normal delay in starting production some of the short-term need could not be met. Furthermore, there is upcoming new navigation regulations and a number of older components that will require to be renewed (obsolescence issues) on the current fleet.  Hence, our announcement of the new CL-415EAF Enhanced Aerial Firefighting (EAF) model to our customers recently.

“The -415EAF will serve two strategic needs: the first will address the short-term requirements of current and new customers, who either want to grow their fleet or as potential new customers. Secondly re-do the avionics suite which will serve new production aircraft should we launch the production of the -415 which we will call the Canadair CL-515.  No decision has been made but we are building the business case and aim to have a decision in mid-2018.

“The CL-415EAF is an official programme.  We are proposing the aircraft to all our customer base.  We have purchased 11 CL-215s, we were careful in selecting the series-5 the latest version and looked carefully at the history of each aircraft. So far, we have reservations for three of them.  We have a solid foundation to do the conversion as there are already 25 CL-215T in operation.  We are targeting delivery between 2020 and 2023, and anticipate this should come around the similar time as the CL-515 is being delivered if we go ahead with it.  The 415EAF will retain its two-door system and same water capacity of 215T.

“We will do two things. First convert existing 215s to 215Ts – re-engine the aircraft, install re-enforcement changes, electrical distribution system and electronic fuel system.  It will then be upgraded with a new commercial off the shelf (COTS) avionics system.  No decision has been made on that yet – but we will be addressing 2020’s new navigation regulations as well as evolve it into future functionality. “

So, Viking has clarified its position on the Super Scooper water bomber. With the Canadair-415EAF being an updated -215T that will act as a pattern aircraft for the new production CL-515 if it is launched.

Alan Warnes
Independent Journalist