As expected, Viking Aircraft is taking formal first steps that could lead to the resumption of production of the CL-415 firefighting/reconnaissance aircraft. Viking CEO Dave Curtis told the Victoria Times Colonist he will shortly make a case before the company’s board of directors to explore building the aircraft again. Viking bought the type certification to the CL-415, CL-215T and CL-215 last year and initially said the plan was to make parts to support the existing fleet of about 180 aircraft. But Mother Nature has intervened and the admittedly pricey (about $40 million) turboprop water scooping amphibs have some unique capabilities that are increasingly in demand.
This year could be among the worst for wildfires all over the world and while the trend has been to use smaller aircraft in repeated and precise aerial attacks, there are times when a big wallop of water (1621 U.S. gallons) is what’s needed. “We have interest from around the globe,” Curtis told the newspaper. The parts and support business was set up in Calgary so it seems likely that manufacturing would happen there, too. Viking has paused production of its Series 400 Twin Otter while it drums up more business for the aircraft.