Originally the CL-215T was designed to be a simple turbine update for the piston powered CL-215. Initially Canadair converted two aircraft to turbine configuration in 1989 to act as development and technical demonstrator aircraft.
The first of these prototypes flew on June 8 that year, and retrofit kits for piston CL-215 aircraft to the new standard were offered. However, Canadair elected not to continue with the CL-215T kits as the internal business case favoured new production aircraft over the conversion program, and the new CL-415 was developed.
After acquiring the CL-215, CL-215T and CL-415 Type Certificates in late 2016, and based on feedback from the operator group, Viking elected to introduce an “Enhanced Aerial Firefighter” (EAF), mirroring the CL-215T conversion program and updating with the addition of operator requested enhancements. To support this new CL-415EAF program, LAAM has acquired a fleet of CL-215 aircraft for conversion to the Viking CL-415EAF standard.
Both the CL-215T and CL-415EAF include the winglets, finlets, higher operating weights, increased capacity firebombing system, and foam injection system of the CL-415. In addition to these standards, other improvements introduced with the Viking CL-415EAF conversion upgrade include:
- Full modern Avionics package,
- Component modernization improvements to address all fleet obsolescence issues,
- Corrosion protection enhancements based on operator feedback,
- Flight deck air-conditioning system,
- Customized external paint scheme, and
- Humanitarian relief and special mission options (e.g. stretcher rack, large cargo door, spray boom system)
The improvements introduced in the LAAM converted CL-415EAF aircraft would naturally lead to setting a new production standard for aerial firefighting aircraft.