De Havilland Canada has begun manufacturing parts and components for its new DHC-515 Firefighter amphibious aircraft, having recently completed a Critical Design Review of the aircraft. Meanwhile, the official start of the production phase of the DHC-515 program is awaiting finalization of contracts with launch customers.
De Havilland Canada is currently manufacturing DHC-515 parts at its facility at Victoria International Airport in British Columbia. Plans call for aircraft final assembly to take place at the company’s plant in Calgary, Alberta, until a new aircraft manufacturing facility has been completed in Wheatland County, Alberta. Construction of this new facility, which will be known as De Havilland Field, is scheduled to get underway in early 2024. Final assembly of the DHC-515 is to be transferred to De Havilland Field once the initial buildings at the site are operational, which company management believes could happen as soon as 2026.
Deliveries of the DHC-515 are planned to begin for 2027. The DHC-515 is an enhanced version of the earlier CL-415, which was manufactured by Bombardier from the mid-1990s to 2015. De Havilland Canada currently owns the type certificates for the CL-415 and its CL-215 and CL-215T predecessors.
The DHC-515 features a Collins Pro Line Fusion avionics suite and increased water tank capacity (7,000 liters/1,850 U.S. gallons). Customers can choose among various options that include a spray boom, an enlarged cargo door, a medevac interior, and a maritime patrol/search-and-rescue sensor suite.
The DHC-515 program was officially launched by De Havilland Canada in March 2022. By the time of the program launch, customers in six European countries (Croatia, France, Greece, Italy, Portugal, and Spain) had signed letters of intent for a combined total of 22 DHC-515s. In July 2023, European Union officials floated a proposal for the procurement of 24 DHC-515s. Twelve of the aircraft would be owned by the EU itself, and operated on a pooled basis. The remaining 12 would be utilized by the aforementioned six nations, all of which are EU members, in their own individual national fleets.
De Havilland Canada has a purchase agreement from the Indonesian Ministry of Defense for six DHC-515s. Two of the aircraft are to be built in an aerial firefighting configuration, while the other four are to be delivered in a multimission configuration. Various provincial and territorial agencies in Canada have also displayed interest in acquiring the DHC-515.