Montana-based Bridger Aerospace Group has signed a deal to purchase up to five water bombers, modified and upgraded by Viking Air and its parent company, Longview Aviation Asset Management (LAAM).
LAAM, based in Calgary, announced its first multiple aircraft “launch customer” for the Viking CL-415EAF Enhanced Aerial Firefighter conversion program. The first two aircraft are set to be delivered by 2020, timing to support that year’s forest firefighting season. The remainder will be delivered in subsequent years.
The conversion program is starting with 11 CL-215 candidate aircraft, supplied by LAAM. They will undergo modification in Calgary, using conversion kits supplied by Viking Air, based in North Saanich at the Victoria International Airport. LAAM stated in a media release that they expect the project will employ close to 200 technical and support staff. Viking Air will provide maintenance and support.
“We are pleased to be the launch customer for LAAM and Viking’s new Enhanced Aerial Firefighter aircraft program,” said Tim Sheehy, Bridger Aerospace’s founder and president. “Bridger has continually positioned itself on the forefront of next generation aerial firefighting techniques and this is yet another step in that direction.”
Headquartered in Bozeman, Montana Bridger Aerospace is a leader in the air attack segment of the aerial forest firefighting sector. Bridger operates air attack, aerial imaging and aerial survey aircraft across all 50 states.
“Bridger’s recognition of the benefits offered by an amphibious aircraft to protect the environment and local communities throughout the United States is a key indicator of the suitability of the CL-415EAF for the US firefighting market,” added LAAM’s Chief Operating Officer Robert Mauracher, “and we look forward to working together in the development of these aircraft.”
The converted CL-215 aircraft will for the basis of the Viking CL-415-EAF and be fitted with new turbine engines, increased fire retardant capacity, a new digital avionics suite and more upgrades. LAAM stated in a media release that its modified water bomber “will outperform competitors” with a short scooping distance and the ability to sustain major fire suppression.