Up to 200 new hires are planned or are already working, as Viking Air in North Saanich and its sister company, Longview Aviation Asset Management (LAAM) of Calgary, launches its new water bomber conversion program.
The majority of the new workers – around 150 – will be for LAAM’s Calgary facilities while an additional 50 are being recruited for Viking Air’s facility at the Victoria International Airport. Viking Air has already hired 50 people to aid in the support of the development of conversion kits, as the companies plan to update approximately 170 aerial firefighting aircraft.
Viking has already launched a recruitment campaign for its North Saanich location. The campaign, announced May 7, could replace some of the positions that were lost in nearly one year ago, when Viking announced in May 2017 it was temporarily laying off 212 people, due to a decline in demand for its Twin Otter aircraft.
Viking Air and LAAM acquired the Type Certificates for the aircraft — Canadair CL-215, CL-215T and CL-415 — from Bombardier in 2016. With them came all product support for the global fleet of 170 aircraft.
The “Enhanced Aerial Firefighter” program will see Viking Air modify the older aircraft in stages from their original configuration and instrumentation, with advancements made with LAAM-converted aircraft, the basis for proposed Viking CL-515 new-production amphibious aerial firefighting aircraft.
To help launch the CL-515 program, Viking Air has applied to the Strategic Innovation Fund from the federal Department of Innovation, Science and Economic Development for funding support.
As well, Viking and LAAM are looking at reinstating its “Viking Academy” paid training pogram to help bring the targeted technical skills required for the new jobs on offer. The companies are working with post-secondary institutions, such as Calgary’s Southern Alberta Institute of Technology and others in B.C., to facilitate the academy.