Viking Air to hire 200 workers to rebuild firefighting bombers

Viking Air will hire more than 200 workers as the aviation manufacturing company starts a new program to rebuild a firefighting water bomber.

Victoria-based Viking said Monday it will collaborate with sister company Longview Aviation Asset Management of Calgary to launch the Viking CL-415EAF conversion program.

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The companies said in a statement that the joint agreement on the CL-415EAF aircraft will provide an economic boost throughout Western Canada with job creation, aerospace manufacturing innovation, supply chain development, academic partnerships and global export opportunities.

To initiate the program, Longview will hire 150 technical and support staff at its Calgary facilities, where 11 CL-215 aerial-firefighting aircraft owned by the company will undergo modification using Viking-supplied conversion kits.

To support development of the conversion, Viking has already hired 50 employees and launched a recruitment campaign to hire an additional 50 at its Victoria International Airport location.

Viking will be reinstating its Viking Academy paid-training program to provide successful applicants with the technical training required for the positions.

Longview and Viking are working with post-secondary institutions to develop technologies and provide training assistance in support of the program. The Southern Alberta Institute of Technology has been engaged for personnel training in Alberta, and Viking is developing partnerships with companies participating in the British Columbia Technology Super Cluster initiative.

Viking said the CL-415EAF conversion program forms part of a staged approach to use advancements made with the Longview-converted aircraft as the basis for the proposed Viking CL-515 new-production amphibious aerial-firefighting aircraft.

Viking has applied to the federal government’s Strategic Innovation Fund for financial support. The funding would be invested between British Columbia and Alberta’s aerospace manufacturing, supply chain, academic and skills-training sectors, and provide program benefits to both provinces in Western Canada.

Viking is also examining a $400-million program announced last year to rebuild the newer CL-415 water bomber in Calgary and at its facilities in Victoria.

Viking has already manufactured more than 200 Series 400 Twin Otter planes and owns the plans and rights to all of the de Havilland aircraft.

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