Viking teases development of CL-515

A video released last week touts a new model of an amphibious scooping air tanker

The proposed design for the new CL-515, according to the Viking promo video released December 20, 2018

On December 20, Viking Air released a video that describes in detail a new model of the scooping air tanker that could succeed the CL-415. The new CL-515, if it is ever built, is supposed to have a 15 percent larger tank holding up to 1,850 gallons (7,000 liters), and the ability to be outfitted with agriculture spraying equipment or carry up to 12 passengers or three stretchers. Other optional equipment could include a larger cargo door, video cameras, and search radar.

We asked a spokesperson for Viking if the description of the CL-515 in the video meant it would be produced, and if so when, we were told, “No official announcement made yet. The 515 video is a promotional tool for the time being to generate interest in the potential production aircraft.” The spokesperson declined to give us a date.

In March, 2018 at the Aerial Firefighting Conference at McClellan Sacramento Airport, Viking’s director of Special Projects, Sales, and Marketing, Christian Bergeron, told us the company was currently gathering information from potential customers about what they would like to see on a new version of the CL-415. Mr. Bergeron said they expected to decide by the third quarter of 2018 if they would proceed with the project, which would be named CL-515.

Executive vice-president of sales and marketing for Viking, Robert Mauracher, told Flight Global in October, “We expect board approval for go or no-go [about building the CL-515] by the end of the first quarter next year”.

Bombardier stopped production of the CL-415 in 2015. The next year Viking acquired the worldwide amphibious aircraft program from Bombardier including the Type Certificates (manufacturing rights) for all variants of Bombardier’s amphibious aircraft, and assumed responsibility for product support, parts and service for the fleet of 170 water bombers in service with 21 operators in 11 countries around the world.

In a similar transaction in 2006 Viking acquired from de Havilland Canada the rights for the Twin Otter and re-launched production in 2007 after a 22 year hiatus, delivering over 140 aircraft in 30 countries. Viking also produces the DHC-7 Dash 7, the DHC-3 Otter, DHC-5 Buffalo, and the DHC-2 Beaver.

And, in November, 2018 Longview Aviation Capital Corp., parent company to Viking, agreed to acquire, through an affiliate, the entire Dash 8 program including the 100, 200 and 300 series and the in-production Q400 program from Bombardier Inc. Also included as part of the transaction are rights to the de Havilland name and trademark. Once completed, Longview will become North America’s largest commercial turbo-prop aircraft manufacturer.

Earlier in 2018 the Conair Group purchased six Q400 MR aircraft from Bombardier which it will convert into multirole air tankers for France’s Securite Civile (Department of Civil Defence and Emergency Preparedness). 

Longview Aviation Asset Management (LAAM) of Calgary, Alberta, in cooperation with Viking launched in May, 2018 the Viking CL-415EAF (“Enhanced Aerial Firefighter”) Conversion Program to include upgrades of many components. LAAM intended to hire up to 150 technical and support staff members at its Calgary facilities, where eleven specially selected CL-215 aerial firefighting aircraft owned by LAAM would undergo the modification process utilizing Viking-supplied conversion kits.

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Isaac. Typos or errors, report them HERE.

21 thoughts on “Viking teases development of CL-515”

  1. I sold Viking thiervfirst two CL-215’s . I have been operating and owning Beavers and Otters for thirty five years with absolutely no support from Viking what so ever . Be interesting if they ever have any success with this program . Not sure they have done anything but remove R-2800’s from the two 215s I sold them . Boondoggle to spend $25M to put turbines on CL-215’s when Basler takes an old worn out Doug and recertifies with new logs and new data tag for $6.5 million

    1. The conversion is not just engines. Full Hydraulics on all flight controls as well. Not to mention a fully updated cockpit. The whole wing comes off with a new one installed, your description of the conversion is a little simple.

      1. Center point refueling and air conditioning as well. The new 415 EAF will also have increased water load and higher gross weight than the previous 215T conversion.

  2. Putting agricultural spray booms on a CL-515 seems like a waste of engineering and design time.
    Oil dispersion spray booms maybe..but AG!
    Makes ya’ll wonder who comes up with this stuff.

  3. The guys that actually fly these things (and not just bloggers ) will tell you the radial powered scoopers fly better and have a better dump system . I have been told that the pilots like the 415’s better because the A/C system . Maybe if the company’s that were buying these things weren’t paying $37M a piece for them ( CL415) there would be more flying and better fire support out there is what I am saying .

    Also one just needs to look at Vikings version of turbine single engine otter conversion to see the problems with their engineers and engineering dept. They spent in excess of $2.5 to convert DHC-3 to turbine when you could have purchased a Vazar kit for $625,000 and spend thirty grand installing .

    1. Obviously you have a beef with Viking!

      The 2 CL-215’s you bought from Minnesota you made a lot of money on, That being said your opinion on any water scooping aircraft (Piston or Turbine) is minimal. No disrespect but you should stick with your Beavers, Otters, buying and selling.

      Viking will do well with their new paths chosen. There will always be a market for Scoopers!

      1. You ever owned a beaver or Otter and tried to get any support out Viking ? Been patient with them for years with not much success . Terrible product support and maybe that’s why so many PMAed parts for them as no product support .

        I think that Viking totally misrepresented the purchase of the two the scoopers ! Maybe you know more about the money part than I do or think you do ! I think its none of your business “Mike “?

        And by the way , I am not sure the 215’s will ever fly with Turbines again as I noted far too complicated and expensive .to convert and probably 24 months away from unmanned helicopters loading 2,500 gallons of water . Technology is advancing that fast .

        And by the way I have rented out more Beavers than Viking , Kenmore and Wipline combined and specialize in all aircraft I own and have for 35 years with much success . I could probably manage the 215 conversion program with better succcess than the hands it’s in currently . Especially with the resources of a multi billion dollar company at my disposal .

        I wish Viking all the luck in the world and would hope that are better sports than they have been with Beavers and Otters!

      2. Time well tell the truth . I remember Vikings PT-6 powered single otter sitting outside on the ramp for years and years . Both over engineered and a literal boondoggle ! I am not sure not it’s not still sitting on ramp . I got a call last summer about buying it and leasing it overseas .

    2. Well I have thousands of hours in both and I would never trade a 415 for a 215. The 415 is everything you ever wished a 215 could be. I know many people who have way more time than me in both and I can assure you they would never trade so not sure who the non-bloggers are that you are talking to. It sure isn’t because of the air conditioning system.

  4. Hi Again

    The entire point of the article was Viking is Teasing the idea of a CL-515….

    The view that the CL-215 is not sure they will fly with Turbine is incredibly naive, both the Provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan have converted their CL-215’s to CL-215T’s with great success.
    Viking is working with Cascades Aerospace on the first CL-215 conversion to a CL-415EAF that will be going to Bridger Aerospace in Montana.

    1. Québec and Spain uses the as well …Actually the 215T is the best of both world….And by that I mean the older version with the basic avionics. By the way, the service from Bombardier, for the amphibious department was far from good… Viking is even worst.

  5. Are you kidding ? Everyone in country knows that Bombardier converted 215’s to turbine , my point is that if and when Cascade or Viking or whom ever is doing conversion is that it’s going to be several years away and possible some new technological advances in 2,500 gallon capacity helicopters flying as drones could possibly be the end of the $35-$40,000,000 scoopers

  6. Reply from David Curtis, President and CEO Viking Air Limited.

    I’ve read in the past Mr. Gilbertson’s disparaging comments on this site about Viking and decided at that time to let them go. Now that he is attacking my team’s capabilities and Viking’s reputation I am compelled to respond. Mr. Gilbertson is entitled to his opinion, but not to invent his own facts. For the benefit of readers, here are the facts:

    1. The CL-215 “T” – Mr. Gilbertson seems to believe we are creating a whole new STC to install Turbine engines on the CL-215. The CL-215 “T” is a certified conversion (by Canadair) of which numerous have been converted. It is NOT an STC but an OEM developed Service Bulletin kit that, as noted by others on this site, involves considerable changes to just about every system on the aircraft. Cascade has converted a number of aircraft for Alberta and Saskatchewan, and Spain operates 18 converted aircraft which have been in service for many years. We are working with Cascade on the conversion of our CL-215’s. The “T” is what became the 415. I believe the “4” in the 415 is meant to signify 4 drop doors vs. 2 on the 215. I’ll leave the debate on which version is better to others. However there is no question that converting radial powered CL-215’s into modern Turbo Props will extend their useful operating life for many decades.

    2. Viking’s Turbo Otter program – Viking is the OEM for the DHC-3 Single Otter. We own the Type Certificate. And yes, we invested heavily into the Viking Turbo Otter program. Our Turbo Otter conversion was certified to the latest revisions (at the time) of FAR-23 in advance of a potential production re-start of the Otter in a Turbine variant. This involved considerably more work to bring the aircraft up to current certification requirements. It was never intended to be a competing product to the already certified Vazar conversion, which simply bolted a PT6 on the front of a Piston Otter. It works great and has been very successful but could never have been put into production as a distinct product. Anyone who understands aircraft certification programs would know the difference between an STC program and an OEM production certification program. Disparaging my Engineering team without understanding the task that they were assigned is both offensive and naïve.

    3. The Turbo Beaver – Mr. Gilbertson doesn’t mention, or perhaps doesn’t know, that we also have had a very successful Turbo Beaver conversion (converting from radial engine to PT6 turbine) going for 20 years that has seen us deliver almost 40 converted aircraft.

    4. Returning the Twin Otter to production – We did not pursue the Turbo Otter program as we decided to focus on restarting production of the Twin Otter. The aforementioned Engineering team led the program to recertify and restart production of the Twin Otter after some 25 years out of production. Something that has never been done before, period. It has been highly successful with over 140 new aircraft delivered to 27 countries around the world. Today we deliver one new Twin Otter every 18 days. The Twin Otter is unquestionably a success in our industry. Hardly the work of amateurs as Mr. Gilbertson would suggest.

    5. Purchases of CL-215 – A sister company to Viking did indeed purchase two CL-215’s from a company owned by Mr. Gilbertson. We now own 11 of them, all to be converted to the “T” variant. The aircraft we purchased from Mr. Gilbertson were previously sold at auction (this is on the public record) and we agreed to purchase them from his company, paid for them in full and took delivery. Mr. Gilbertson certainly didn’t express his displeasure in Viking at the time we were negotiating with him to purchase these aircraft. We would not disclose the terms of our purchase agreement to anyone – and as he has said himself, its none of anyone’s business anyway. But suggesting without facts that we are somehow mis-representing the purchase/sale of these aircraft is offensive. Viking has been in business for almost 50 years and we didn’t get there by operating irresponsibly.

    6. Beaver & Otter support – On this point I agree with Mr. Gilbertson. We have always struggled providing adequate support for these aircraft. It’s a very low volume program and there are many smaller suppliers who specialize in these aircraft, Kenmore being one. We are still active doing what we can, but the good news, for folks like Mr. Gilbertson, is Beaver and Otter owners and operators have numerous options. And incidentally I fly a radial powered Beaver on floats regularly so I am not ignorant of the aircraft type.

    In summary, Mr. Gilbertson is entitled to his opinion, but not to make disparaging and inaccurate comments with no basis in fact. I hope I have provided more facts than opinion for the consideration of readers.

    Sincerely,
    David Curtis, President and CEO Viking Air Limited

  7. Thank you for taking the time to address the above comments. I look forward to flying the new CL-415 EAF and hoping the same for the CL-515.

  8. Dave Curtis – ‘I believe this was the information you were looking for’ *mouse drop*
    Gilbertson – *cries himself to sleep*

  9. I am not crying myself to sleep ! I am not going to respond on a public forum to Dave Curtis . I’ll deal with him personally and argue every point I have stated . This was mistake making comments in this forum . It obviously roughled some feathers and that was not my intent. My view from the bottom of the industry is totally inverse from the top looking down and where Mr Curtis’s view is . I have been operating at the bottom for 35 years with I will add with much success ! My View is entirely different . Most days I wish I had more money to put it where my passions are and maybe a little jealous as I see a lot of wasted capital is being spent .

    No more comments from me ever ! Regards Dg

  10. There are two Problems in CL-415. First, it is low-efficiency except for wild firefighting. So nobody wants to use it after fire season. Second, as a firefight aircraft, people want bigger water load in each fight over.
    So, for the next generation. CL-X15, it should have a significant improvement in these two issues. Otherwise, it has no reasonable market.

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