The Viking Air CL-415 (Superscooper, later Bombardier 415) is an amphibious aircraft based on the Canadair CL-215 and designed specifically for aerial firefighting, built by Canadair and Bombardier then Viking Air. The Bombardier 415 is the aviation industry’s benchmark amphibious aircraft and the backbone of firefighting missions around the globe. In 2016, Viking Air Limited (“Viking”), a global leader of utility aircraft, support and services and manufacturer of the world-renowned Twin Otter, announced the acquisition of the worldwide amphibious aircraft program from Bombardier. The amphibious aircraft program includes the Bombardier CL-415 water bomber and its variants, as well as the earlier CL-215 and CL-215T versions.
The CL-415 has an updated cockpit, aerodynamics enhancements and changes to the water-release system as well, creating a modern firefighting amphibious flying boat for use in detecting and suppressing forest fires. Compared to the CL-215, the CL-415 has increased operating weight and speed, yielding improved productivity and performance. The primary difference between the CL-415 over the CL-215T is an EFIS avionics suite. The Viking Air CL-415 can scoop up to 6,140 litres (1,620 US gal) of water from a nearby water source, mix it with a chemical foam if desired, and drop it on a fire without having to return to base to refill its tanks. The CL-415 was specifically developed to provide the capability to deliver large quantities of suppressant in quick response to fires.
The aircraft is built for reliability and longevity, with use of corrosion-resistant materials. The new 415GR has higher operating weights, while the CL-415 multi-role is available for use in a paramilitary search and rescue role and utility transport. The aircraft requires 1,340 metres (4,400 ft) of flyable area to descend from 15 metres (49 ft) altitude, scoop 6,137 litres (1,350 imp gal; 1,621 US gal) of water during a twelve-second 410-metre-long (1,350 ft) run on the water at 70 knots (130 km/h; 81 mph), then climb back to 15 m altitude. The aircraft can also pick up partial loads in smaller areas and can turn while scooping, if necessary.
Incorporated in 1970, Viking Air Limited began as the successor to McKinnon Enterprises, a parts and modification facility working on the Grumman family of aircraft. Building on the organizational strength achieved from the Twin Otter Series 400 program, Viking acquired the Type Certificates for the Canadair Aerial Firefighter fleet in 2016, including the CL-215, CL-215T, CL-415, and CL-415MP multi-purpose amphibious aircraft. Viking’s new facility located near Calgary International Airport (CYYC) is in addition to the company’s existing 70,000 square foot facility at CYYC. Viking’s existing facilities in Calgary will be repurposed to accommodate existing Twin Otter activities, as well as the addition of the amphibious aircraft program.