Viking Air’s first production CL-415EAF amphibious air tanker flew for the first time last week in Abbotsford, B.C. and will soon be ready to tackle wildfires in the western U.S. The aircraft is a significantly modernized CL-215 that was modified by Cascade Aerospace in Abbotsford using a conversion kit produced by Viking. The conversion includes replacing the original radial engines with turboprops and replacing the avionics and other flight systems with modern equipment. The aircraft will be the first of six delivered to Bridger Aerospace and should be in service in time for the coming fire season.
The conversion kit is a bridge to beginning production of new air tankers by Viking, whose parent company Longview Aviation Capital, bought the type certificate to the CL-215 and 415 from Bombardier three years ago. The new state-of-the-art air tankers have greater payload and faster scooping ability than other platforms.