Italy's department of civil protection has taken delivery of an additional three Bombardier 415s, taking its fleet of the twin-turboprop firefighting amphibians to 16 aircraft. Italy has an option to convert one aircraft to the soon-to-be certificated 415MP multipurpose version.

Production of the 415 has been suspended and Bombardier has an undisclosed number of unsold aircraft available. While efforts to secure orders and relaunch 415 production continue, the Canadian company is looking into reintroducing the 215T turboprop conversion programme for older piston-engined CL-215s, says Amphibious Aircraft division director Stephane Leroy.

"It's a hot topic," Leroy says. "There is a large interest, particularly in Canada, where most 215s are." Re-engining offers a lower-cost alternative to the 415 for existing 215 operators, he says. A total of 60 Bombardier 415s have been sold to firefighting agencies in Canada, Croatia, France, Greece and Italy. Spain operates 14 CL-215Ts, while Greece and Spain also operate 19 CL-215s, the company says.

In looking for new customers, Bombardier is promoting the 415MP for search-and-rescue and maritime surveillance, as well as firefighting, Leroy says. The multi- purpose version, developed in co-operation with Saab Nyge, is set for certification and delivery to an undisclosed customer, believed to be Greece, in a few weeks.

In addition to new-build 415MPs, the company is offering to convert in-service 415s to MP configuration. The modification involves electronics and structural changes, including installation of a larger cargo door.

Source: Flight International