De Havilland will manufacture a range of firefighting aircraft in Calgary

De Havilland Aircraft of Canada Limited says it is relaunching a water bomber aircraft manufacturing program that will create 500 jobs in Calgary, Alberta.

The company says it started the De Havilland DHC-515 Firefighter program to build on the history of the Canadair CL-215 and CL-415 aircraft. Both aircraft types were used to fight forest fires in Europe and North America for over 50 years, but are no longer in production.

The company has already signed letters of intent from European customers to purchase the first 22 aircraft and expects to make its first deliveries by the middle of the decade.

De Havilland Canada acquired the Canadair CL program in 2016 and has been planning to return the water bombers to production since 2019.

It says final assembly of the aircraft will take place in Calgary, where support for the CL-215 and CL-415 already in service takes place.

The company says it expects the DHC-515 to be an important tool for countries around the world as climate change increases the intensity and frequency of wildfires.