They will produce the DHC-515 water scooping air tanker, DHC-6 Twin Otter, and Dash 8-400 (Q400)
In a discussion Wednesday about the numerous massive wildfires in France this year, and what that may portend for fire seasons to come, Gérald Moussa Darmanin, Minister of the Interior, said, “We want to increase the number of Canadair [water scooping air tankers] in our own fleet from twelve to sixteen. But the problem is not to buy them, it is to produce them. Today there are no longer any factories that do so.”
France is also in the process of replacing their S-2 air tankers with six Dash 8-400 (Q400) air tankers.
The De Havilland CL-215 and CL-415 water scooping air tankers are no longer in production. But in March the company announced that a new modernized variant, the DHC-515, first teased in 2018, will be assembled in Calgary, Alberta with deliveries beginning by the middle of the decade.
De Havilland has facilities in Calgary where work on the existing CL-215, CL- 415, and CL-415 EAF aircraft currently takes place employing about 1,000 people at six buildings.
The same day Mr. Darmanin said production of new firefighting air tankers is not occurring, De Havilland made a grand announcement at the Calgary airport. The company has acquired nearly 1,500 acres of land east of the city on which they expect to build a very extensive complex of aircraft manufacturing facilities. It will include a runway and will be known as De Havilland Field with construction beginning as early as 2023 with the first buildings operational by 2025.
“De Havilland Field, like Rome — I have to warn you — won’t be built in a day. We anticipate the full build-out will take somewhere between 10 and 15 years,” said company co-owner Sherry Brydson. “We’re planning to take it slowly and seriously, and we’re going to make sure it works.”
The company expects to employ 1,500 workers to produce at least three lines of aircraft — DHC-515, DHC-6 Twin Otter, and Dash 8-400 (Q400).
Work on the Twin Otter and Dash 8-400 paused at the start of the pandemic in 2020.
In February, the company announced the consolidation of Viking Air, Longview Aviation, Pacific Sky Training, and De Havilland Canada under the operating brand De Havilland Aircraft of Canada.
The European Union coordinates and funds the deployment of 12 fixed wing firefighting airplanes and one helicopter pooled by EU countries. We reported in July that the EU plans to purchase additional air tankers.
“European customers have signed letters of intent to purchase the first 22 aircraft pending the positive outcome of government-to-government negotiations through the Government of Canada’s contracting agency, the Canadian Commercial Corporation,” an announcement from De Havilland read. “De Havilland Canada expects first deliveries of the DHC-515 by the middle of the decade, with deliveries of additional aircraft to begin at the end of the decade, providing other customers the opportunity to renew existing fleets or proceed with new acquisition opportunities at that time.”