Viking Buys CL-415 Business

Viking Air, of Victoria, has purchased the CL-415 program.
Viking Air, of Victoria, has purchased the CL-415 program.

Viking Aircraft, of Victoria, B.C. says there are no immediate plans to resume production of the CL-415 amphibious water bomber.

The company, which announced a deal to assume the type certificate for the iconic aircraft last week from Bombardier, told Canadian Aviator the focus of the deal is on supporting the existing fleet rather than resuming production.

Bombardier stopped making the turboprop amphib, which is one of only a few purpose-built aerial firefighting platforms built.

“Viking acquired the program because it sees a clear business opportunity in the parts and support side of the equation,” said Viking spokesman Trevor Zeck in an email. “Once the regulatory approvals are obtained and the transaction closes (estimated 60-90 days) Viking will be able to formally dig into the business and explore the opportunities which may be available.”

Most CL-415s are in use in Europe. They’re highly regarded but expensive (more than $40 million) and many firefighting jurisdictions are opting for smaller air tankers that are cheaper to buy and operate.

Bombardier said it gave up the waterbomber business to focus on its other product lines, most likely the CSeries airliner, which has strained the company coffers during its development.

A couple of big sales recently have provided a much-needed boost to the program but there will still be large investments required to spool up production.

Meanwhile, sales have dropped off for Viking’s new-production 400 Series Twin Otter and the CL-415 business is a diversification move by Viking.

Viking is getting 50,000 square feet of shop space at Calgary Airport ready for the CL-415 program and the company is anticipating adding 40 jobs, many of which will likely be filled by staff who were laid off the Twin Otter line.