As the Chilean government emerges as a potential customer, Calgary-based Viking Air has moved within months of inducting the first of 11 CL-415 Enhanced Aerial Firefighter (EAF) airframes into modification, says executive vice-president of sales and marketing Rob Mauracher.

Bombardier closed production of the family of amphibious water-bombers in 2015 and sold the type certificate to Viking Air the following year.

In 2017, Viking launched the CL-415 EAF as a re-engined and heavily updated version of the CL-215 Series V, using 11 aircraft purchased from the used market. In addition to replacing the CL-215´s piston engines with Pratt & Whitney Canada PW100 turboshaft engines, Viking Air also is upgrading the avionics with a modern integrated flight deck system and replacing obsolescent flight controls and aircraft hydraulic and fuel systems.

The first CL-415 EAF is scheduled to be delivered to an unnamed launch customer in the first quarter of 2020, Maurcher tells FlightGlobal.

With the CL-415 EAF modifications set as a new baseline, Viking Air also continues to evaluate the possibility of launching production of new aircraft with the same configuration rebranded as the CL-515, he says. A final decision on whether to move forward with the CL-515 is scheduled in the second half of this year, Mauracher adds.

The supplier of the new avionics for the CL-415 EAF and potential CL-515 will be announced before Viking Air decides to move forward with new series production.

Meanwhile, Viking Air is in discussions with Chilean military and government officials about a potential acquisition of aerial firefighting aircraft, Mauracher says.

The Canadian manufacturer also is in talks with the Chilean military about replacing an aging fleet of DeHavilland Twin Otter Series 300 aircraft with new Viking 400s, Mauracher says.