The CL-215 is an amphibious aircraft specifically designed to fight forest fires. It is the first model in a series of firefighting aircraft built by Canadair. It was originally designed for Canada and other heavily forested regions, and serves a number of roles in several countries, ranging from forest fire fighting to oil spill control on the open sea. It first flew on October 23, 1967.
The CL-215 is the result of a quest for a more effective way of delivering water to forest fires. It is a versatile aircraft which can be fitted as a water bomber, an air transport for goods or passengers, a SAR (Search and Rescue) aircraft, or a patrol and reconnaissance aircraft; however, its main purpose is on fighting fires.
Nicknamed "Super Scooper" and "Yellow Duck", the airplane can skim lakes or reservoirs to fill its tanks with water. It is capable of scooping up 1442 gallons of water in just 12 seconds from a water source such as a lake or river. The water can be mixed with additives to be dropped on wildfires and occasionally structure fires.
The CL-215 is a twin-engine, high-wing aircraft designed to operate well at low speeds and in gust-loading circumstances, commonly found over forest fires. It is also able to land and take off from short, unpaved airstrips, which increases it effectiveness and rapid response. It is powered by two Pratt & Whitney R-2800 radial engines, specially designed to operate in forest fire conditions.
The flight crew consists of two persons, also supporting variants for special missions that include a third flight deck member, a mission specialist and two observers. It supports a 30 passenger configuration, or an 11 passenger configuration that includes firebombing tanks retained and freight in forward fuselage.
The aircraft length is 65ft. with a wingspan of 93.83ft. and a height measured to the top of the tail of 29.19ft. Its max cruising speed is 160 kts with an initial rate of climb of 1000ft/min. It weights 26,940 lbs. when it's empty and supports a max takeoff weight of 43497 lbs and 37699 lbs from land and water respectively.
A subsequent model, the CL-215T was originally designed to be a simple turboprop powered development of the CL-215. However, Canadair decided not to continue the production of CL-215Ts and instead developed the CL-415.
The primary improvement added to the CL-415 over the CL-215T is an EFIS avionics suite, while other improvements, some of which first appeared on the CL-215T, include winglets and finlets, higher weights and an increased capacity firebombing system. Like the CL-215 its principle mission is that of a fire bomber, but various special mission (including SAR and maritime patrol) and transport configurations are available.
The CL-415 max cruising speed is 376km/h, with an initial rate of climb of 1375ft/min. Empty operating weight is 27189 lbs and the aircraft supports a max takeoff weight of 43489 lbs and 37,849 lbs from land and water respectively.
The CL-215 is an important weapon in the fight against forest fires.