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Canadair CL-215

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Canadair CL-215
The CL-215 is an indispensable tool for Canadian forest fire fighters.
Type Firefighting aircraft
Manufacturer Canadair
Maiden flight 23 October 1967
Introduced 1969
Status Active service.
Primary user Canada
Produced 1969-1990
Number built 125
Variants Bombardier 415
Canadair CL-215 in Canadian civil service
One of Minnesota DNR's Scoopers. The department lent the aircraft to the effort to fight the California wildfires of October 2007, and it is seen here at Fox Field

The Canadair CL-215 ("Scooper") was the first model in a series of firefighting aircraft built by Canadair and later Bombardier. The CL-215 is a twin-engine, high-wing amphibian designed to operate well at low speed and in gust-loading circumstances, as are found over forest fires. It is also able to land and take off from short, unpaved airstrips.

Design and development

Arising from an earlier 1960s research study at the company, the original concept was for a twin-engined floatplane transport, that was altered into a "firefighter" as a result of a request by forestry officials in the Quebec Service Aérien (Quebec Government Air Service) for a more effective way of delivering water to forest fires. The preliminary design, the CL-204 was a purpose-designed water bomber that evolved into an amphibian configuration, powered by two 2,100 hp Pratt & Whitney R-2800 piston engines, shoulder-mounted. The definitive design known as the CL-215 received a program go-ahead in February 1966 with its maiden flight on 23 October 1967. The first delivery was to the French civil protection agency in June 1969. Production of CL-215s progressed through 5 series ending in 1990.

Operational history

The CL-215 is known by several nicknames depending on where it is used. In France, they are known as "Canadairs." In western Canada they are known as "Ducks." Most other operators prefer to go by "Scoopers." The turboprop versions, CL-215T and 415 are known as "Super Scoopers" because of their increased performance. The aircraft can skim lakes, rivers, reservoirs, or open water to fill its tanks. The water can be mixed with additives for direct attack of wildfires and structure protection. The aircraft has a 1,400 US gal (1167 Imp gal, 5300 liter; 12,000 lb, 5442 kg) fluid capacity, and can refill its tank in ten seconds at 75-80 knots (140-150 km/h, 86-92 mph). With water sources close to fires, CL-215s have delivered 75-125 loads of water in a single day in support fire fighting efforts.

The CL-215 is a versatile aircraft capable of several configurations such as maritime patrol / search and rescue, air transport, and cargo, in addition to its primary role as a water bomber.

CL-215s have been involved in 26 accidents, 21 fatal.[1]


In 1987, the CL-215T was announced, with improvements in handling brought about by design changes to the wings and empennage, and more powerful Pratt and Whitney turboprop engines. Originally the follow-up CL-215T was to be a simple turboprop-powered development of the CL-215, and Canadair converted two aircraft in 1989 to act as development aircraft. The first of these flew on 8 June 1989. Retrofit kits for CL-215s to the new standard are offered, but Canadair elected not to build new CL-215Ts and instead developed the CL-415. In February 2006, Bombardier announced they would again offer turbine conversion kits for operators of the series five CL-215.

In 1972, U.S. Congressman Barry Goldwater, Jr. led an effort in Congress to have the CL-215 built in the United States in the old Convair Aviation facility in San Diego. The plane was flown to Washington, D.C., that year for a demonstration of its performance to the House Agriculture Committee. The plane scooped and then dropped water on the Anacostia River near the Washington Navy Yard. The goal was to have the U.S. government build the planes to be deployed throughout the country. Unfortunately, opposition from some in the Los Angeles County Fire Department helped sink the plan. It took nearly 30 years since Goldwater first moved to get the planes deployed in the United States for federal, state, and local agencies to use them.[citation needed]


Over a period of 21 years beginning in 1969, 125 of these aircraft were built and sold to customers in 11 countries.

Specifications (CL-215)

Canadair CL-215T of the Spanish Air Force

General characteristics

  • Crew: 2 pilots
  • Payload:
    • 5,455 L (1,400 US gal) of water or
    • 6,123 kg (12,000 lb) of chemicals
  • Length: 19.82 m (65 ft 1 in)
  • Wingspan: 28.60 m (93 ft 10 in)
  • Height: 8.98 m (29 ft 6 in)
  • Wing area: 100.3 m² (1,080 ft²)
  • Empty weight: 12,200 kg (26,900 lb)
  • Max takeoff weight:
    • From water: 17,100 kg (37,700 lb)
    • From land: 19,730 kg (43,500 lb)
  • Powerplant:Pratt & Whitney R-2800-83AM 18-cylinder radial engines, 2,100 hp (1,600 kW) each


See also

Related development

Comparable aircraft




  • Pickler, Ron and Milberry, Larry. Canadair: The First 50 Years. Toronto: CANAV Books, 1995. ISBN 0-921022-07-7.

External links


cs:Canadair CL-215 de:Canadair CL-215 el:Canadair CL-215 es:Canadair CL-215 fr:Canadair CL-215 hr:Kanader it:Canadair CL-215 nl:Canadair CL-215 ja:カナディア CL-215

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.
It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Canadair CL-215".