De Havilland Aircraft of Canada is moving ahead with the DHC-515 Firefighter program, with letters of intent in hand for the first 22 from European customers. Viking Aircraft, which was recently folded into the De Havilland brand by parent Longview Aviation Capital, had acquired the CL-214 and CL-415 programs in 2016 and had since been mulling bringing a new waterbomber to production. However, the pandemic pushed back such a launch of what was originally called the CL-515.
De Havilland said the DHC-515 Firefighter turboprop twin will build on its predecessor aircraft but incorporate improvements for increased functionality. The DHC-515 will be capable of carrying nearly 700,000 liters of water into a fire zone per day. In addition, as an amphibian aircraft, it can refill in 12 seconds from nearby sources such as rivers and lakes, instead of needing to return to an airport for additional water, the company said.
"After an extensive business and technical review, we are pleased to announce that we have launched the De Havilland DHC-515 Firefighter program, which will involve negotiating contracts with our European customers and ramping up for production," said De Havilland Canada CEO Brian Chafe.
Plans call to begin delivery by the middle of the decade on the initial orders, which are pending completion of government-to-government negotiations through the government of Canada’s contracting agency, the Canadian Commercial Corp. (CCC). Deliveries beyond the initial 22 would begin by the end of the decade, the company said.
Final assembly will take place at the company’s Calgary, Alberta facilities, where it currently supports the CL-214 and CL-415. De Havilland anticipates the need to hire up to 500 people for the program.
"To bring the DHC-515 into production is important for not only our company but countries around the world who rely on our aircraft to protect their people and forests," said Chafe. "We understand the important role the previous aircraft have played in protecting people and property and as our climate continues to change and summers increase in both temperature and length, the DHC-515 will be an important tool for countries around the globe to use in putting out fires."
Canada International Trade Minister Mary Ng added that the announcement “is an example of the Canadian Commercial Corporation (CCC) supporting Canadian innovators to scale up, reach new markets, and have a positive global impact. Not only is this great news for Canadian exports, but for all the countries that will benefit from its technology advancements and world-class solutions."