The CL 515 is a water bomber under development by Viking Air or British Columbia. Viking acquired all rights to the CL 215 and CL 415, from Bombardier Air, in 2016. The 215 was the first aircraft specifically designed to be a water bomber (called "air tankers" in the USA). They were introduced in 1966, and 250 were built before they were superceded by the similar 415, in 1990. The 415 employed more modern avionics, and was propelled by a pair of turbo-prop engines instead of the piston engines that propelled the 215. 95 415s were built when Bombardier closed its production line, in 2015.
Bombardier underwent a period of expansion, for several decades. Its rail division purchased many competitors, with some commentators characterizing its strategy as "if you can't beat them, buy them." Its aerial division spent billions on developing a new, hi-tech, air-liner seating approximately 100 passengers.
Viking, meanwhile, was a much smaller company, which specialized in building parts, under license, to help maintain older discontinued planes built by Bombardier.
Troubled Bombardier sold the design documents, and all intellectual property rights, of the earlier bush planes to Viking in 2008. When Bombardier sold the designs for the 215 and 415 to Viking the firm began working on a more modern version, the 515.
The 515's design would use the latest avionics and propulsion. Viking anticipates that the 515 could be both more fuel efficient than the earlier planes, and have an increase in cargo capacity from 6000 litres to 7000 litres. The 515 would be a multi-mission airframe. The design's larger rear door, would be useful when used as a cargo plane, and for launching a small rescue boat, when serving in a search and rescue role]]. Modern scanner pods would be hung under each wing, enhancing their ability to find those lost at sea, in the search and rescue role, or to indentify smugglers, unregistered fishers, or vessels leaking pollutants, in a maritime surveillance role.
Viking argued that the multiple roles of the aircraft would allow operators to get economic value from their investment outside of fire season. Unlike the 215 and 415 the 515 would have sensors that allowed it to operate safely, at night.
Viking applied for innovation funding from Canada's Federal government in May 2018. The funding request was made through Canada's Department of Innovation, Science and Economic Development to its Strategic Innovation Fund.
- Chris Thatcher (2018-08-22). [https://www.skiesmag.com/news/viking-air-contemplates-new-cl-515-waterbomber-variant/ "Viking Air contemplates new CL-515 waterbomber variant Posted on August 22, 2018 by"]. Skies magazine. https://www.skiesmag.com/news/viking-air-contemplates-new-cl-515-waterbomber-variant/. Retrieved 2019-01-02. "In 2016, Viking acquired from Bombardier the certificates for all variants of the Canadair-designed CL-215 piston-powered Scooper, including the CL-215T and the Bombardier-built 415 aircraft."
- "Viking expects CL-515 launch decision in early 2019". Flight Global magazine. 2018-10-31. https://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/viking-expects-cl-515-launch-decision-in-early-2019-453102/. Retrieved 2019-01-02. "If the project gets the go-ahead, Viking anticipates the first CL-515 will fly in 2024, and envisions production of four to five aircraft annually for 10 years, Mauracher says."
- Stephen Trimble (2018-05-07). "Viking applies for funding to launch CL-515 aerial firefighter". Flight Global magazine. https://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/viking-applies-for-funding-to-launch-cl-515-aerial-f-448381/. Retrieved 2019-01-02. "Viking applied for financial support from the Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF), which is managed by Canada’s Department of Innovation, Science and Economic Development (ISED)."
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