Bombardier sells their air tanker business

T-260 at Sacramento McClellan Airport
T-260, a CL-415, at Sacramento McClellan Airport, March 23, 2018. Photo by Bill Gabbert.

Bombardier has agreed to sell their air tanker manufacturing business to Viking Air Ltd.

The transaction will see Viking acquire the Type Certificates (manufacturing rights) for all variants of Bombardier’s amphibious aircraft, and assume responsibility for product support, parts and service for the fleet of 170 air tankers in service with 21 operators in 11 countries around the world.

Below is an excerpt from an article at CTV News:

…Victoria-based Viking manufactures the Twin Otter as well as spare parts for several planes originally made by de Havilland. It also has manufacturing rights for all out-of-production de Havilland aircraft, including the DASH-7 regional airliner, a predecessor to Bombardier’s Q400 turboprop.

Viking employs just under 90 people in Calgary and more than 330 at its headquarters and facilities in Victoria. The company said it expects to add up to 40 people to its workforce in Victoria and Calgary with the new program.

Bombardier said Monday it plans to transfer 50 employees from the amphibious aircraft program based in North Bay, Ont., to other parts of its business.

The Montreal-based company hasn’t produced an amphibious plane since December 2015…

Canadair began manufacturing the amphibious CL-215 air tanker in 1967 and in 1986 sold the manufacturing rights for the aircraft to Bombardier. In 1993 Bombardier introduced the upgraded CL-415, replacing the piston engines with Pratt & Whitney Canada PW123AF turboprops as well as introducing an updated cockpit and aerodynamics enhancements.

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Mike.

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9 thoughts on “Bombardier sells their air tanker business”

  1. i was reading a story on one of the forums i belong to where they were discussing Viking ,and someone said they had read or heard that they were going to start production on new beavers.i think it would be pretty cool if they did,but that seems like a long shot.i personally would like to see Viking build a dedicated tanker on the dash 7 or dash 8 airframes.
    What would the overall consensus of the readers of “Fire Aviation” and “Wildfire Today” be,to the thought (my own,dont think anyone else is this silly)of modifying the DHC-6 Twin Otter to a Air Tanker? they have front doors to get the pilots in and out,and a internal tank of some type could be installed in the im NOT a pilot,i just day dream about it and fly the computer simulators,meaning i dont really have the smarts about airframe whatevers to know what is needed to be a tanker,i know what i mean here,but i dont know how to say it.sorry.but couldnt the twin otters and the current AT 802’s land on roads near large fires,and have mobile retardant or just water tenders to fill them and whoosh off and running to the fire sure there would be all kinds of no no’s to something like this,but ive often wondered why they dont do something like this,802s use levee roads,or even regular “roads” in AG areas to refill the fertilizer or seed,why couldnt roads in rural areas that are in the manditory evac areas of a fire to reload small tankers,its true the VLATs do wonders with their 16K gallons of retardant,but flying from Cali to AZ or NM is nuts ( this happened a few years ago with the DC10s of ten tankers or whatever thier name is.went from MCC in sacramento to a fire in AZ,,,my father would tell you it was MCC to texas,,it wasnt that far though,back to my point,800 gallons at a time in an area within a mile or less of the main fire would do one hell of alot of good work,as will an amphibious plane working local lakes rambling so im done…but doggone it..why wouldnt it work?..

    1. I can’t help this but:
      The CL series are purpose built as scooper and you want to modify the Otter to haul water? Not to hurt your idea or anything but not the best of thoughts, but as I was brought up “All it takes is money and time”. I wish the best of luck to Viking.

      1. hi doug,im in northern california,45 miles east of sacramento,we have lakes here,folsom,clementine,and then up the hill farther are smaller lakes….i know planes can land on most of them,,but they are also deep in narrow canyons..well im thinking of the area around auburn ca,which would be lake clementine ,i just dont know how they would work not saying they asking how will they?….is Lake Tahoe a good enough body of water for this entire area?..could they use Folsom lake? i say,i have nothing bad to say about the amphibs,but i dont understand how well they might work here…

    2. The use of SEAT’s and mobile retardant bases was given a good look at by CDF over two decades ago. In concept it was worth looking into, but came with it’s own set of logistical problems. The water scoopers have given good service in California but not all lake authority managers are hot on the idea. The helicopter industry has came along way in just the last few fire seasons with the addition of several Chinooks including two “tanked” Chinooks. VLATS are just another air tanker. When an I.C. makes the request for a VLAT the I.C. is probably planning ahead several hours into the incident where the VLAT will be used for the best tactical advantage. A two hour initial response time can work into the I.C’s. plan as those initial attack aircraft on the fire will be on the ground for fueling in about two hours. Of course a twenty minute I.A. by any type of water/retardant dropping aircraft (s) is the best plan for success. Remember aircraft are just a part of the total picture. You have to have fire fighters on the ground to take advantage of drops. Case study Stanislaus N.F. Rim Fire first and second burning periods.

  2. It would be difficult to tank a Twin Otter as the aircraft carries it’s fuel in the belly not in the wings!

  3. Some DHC-6 Twin Otter aircraft have amphibious floats that allow skim water from smaller water bodies. The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (OMNRF) has a number in it’s fleet in addition to it’s CL-415s. I spent a number of summers working with (OMNRF) as an Interior Park Ranger and the DHC-6’s would pick us up and drop us off on various small lakes with all of our equipment. Often our pickups were delayed while the DHC-6 would be assigned to provide support to Fire Crews operating nearby while the 215/415s worked the priority fires. The aircraft had the ability to carry out a number of different types of missions between refuelling with no changes in crew or configuration.

    A couple of years later I was called up to augment a Fire Ranger crew and more often than not, we would have a 415 group provide some of the initial drops on a fire and then they would be released and replaced by a DHC-6 that would support us for the next hour or so. I believe the DHC-6 can hold about 600 gallons between the two pontoons which is a sizeable load. When you factor in the short take off and landing abilities, the single configuration that can address multiple roles, and the amphibious abilities, I think the DHC-6 is a very cost effective multi-use platform and am surprised they are not more readily used.

    One particular memory I have with a DHC-6 while on a fire was laying out hose along the fires edge as the Twin Otter came in for a drop. It was a low drop well offset from where I was working, and the bulk of the water landed exactly where we needed it. Unfortunately, some of the droplets from the edge of the drop caught me on the face and immediately felt like I had stuck my head in the middle of a wind tunnel with ice pellets. I had a bit of reddish face for a few hours afterwards but truth be told the immediate cool down was welcome relief to the high temperatures.

  4. As a beaver and single otter owner for over thirty years , I have been totally disappointed with parts support out of Viking for these wonderful aircraft . I have also just recently sold two CL -215’s to Biking in the last month . I cannot imagine the operators are going to be very happy about the parts support for the scoopers as Viking has done a horrid job of supporting the Beavers and Otters

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