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Canadair CL-215

Role Firefighting amphibious aircraft
Manufacturer Canadair
First flight 23 October 1967
Introduction 1969
Status Active service.
Primary users Canada
Produced 1969–1990
Number built 125
Variants Bombardier 415
Cockpit of a Buffalo Airways Canadair CL-215

The Canadair CL-215 (Scooper) was the first model in a series of firefighting flying boat amphibious aircraft built by Canadair and later Bombardier. The CL-215 is a twin-engine, high-wing aircraft designed to operate well at low speeds 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 1
  • Variants 2
  • Operators 3
    • Former operators 3.1
  • Accidents and incidents 4
  • Aircraft on display 5
  • Specifications (CL-215) 6
  • See also 7
  • References 8
    • Notes 8.1
    • Bibliography 8.2
  • External links 9

Design and development

The "bomb door" from which the water is dropped

The CL-215 can be traced back to two early projects by Canadair, the CL-43 and CL-204. The CL-43 was conceived as a logistics aircraft and was based on the design of the Canadian Vickers-built 369 Canso (a variant of the Consolidated PBY Catalina).[1] 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 1962 preliminary design, the CL-204, was a purpose-designed water bomber that evolved into an amphibian flying boat configuration, powered by two shoulder-mounted 2,100 hp (1,566 kW) Pratt & Whitney R-2800 piston engines. The definitive design known as the CL-215 received a program go-ahead in February 1966 with its maiden flight on 23 October 1967.[2] The first delivery was to the French civil protection agency (Sécurité Civile, then known as Protection Civile) in June 1969. Production of CL-215s progressed through five series ending in 1990.


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 & 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.

Cascade Aerospace, Canada, offers CL-215 to CL-215T engine retrofits using the Bombardier kit and Pratt & Whitney Canada PW123AF engines and is currently the only conversion kit installer in the world.[3]


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
Water tanks with fire suppressant tank at the rear. At the top of the tanks are funnels that spill excess water collected during replenishment operations out of the side of the aircraft.

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



  • Spanish Air Force, 43 Grupo:[8]
  • Ministry of Environment (INAER): five Ex-Spanish Air Force CL-215Ts[9]
  • Royal Thai Navy: one[10] of the two CL-215s delivered in 1978 is used for search and rescue/patrol.[11]
 United States

Former operators

  • CVG Ferrominera Orinoco: two CL-215s, one crashed on 1989, the other one has been parked ever since[16]
  • Yugoslav Air Force: five CL-215s in service with the 676th Fire Fighting Squadron from 1981, until four sold to Greece in 1995.[17]

Accidents and incidents

CL-215s have been involved in 26 accidents, 21 fatal.[18]

Aircraft on display

Specifications (CL-215)

A turboprop-powered CL-215T of the Spanish Air Force
CL-215s belonging to the Canadian province of Alberta

Data from Jane's All the World's Aircraft 1976-77[21]

General characteristics
  • Crew: two pilots
  • Capacity: 18 passengers (utility version)
  • Payload:
    • 5,346 litres (1,176 Imp gal) of water or
    • 5,444 kg (12,000 lb) of chemicals
  • Length: 19.82 m (65 ft 0½ in)
  • Wingspan: 28.60 m (93 ft 10 in)
  • Height: 8.98 m (29 ft 6 in[22])
  • Wing area: 100.3 m² (1,080 ft²)
  • Empty weight: 12,065 kg (26,600 lb)
  • Max. takeoff weight:
    • From water: 17,100 kg (37,700 lb)
    • From land: 19,730 kg (43,500 lb)
  • Powerplant: 2 × Pratt & Whitney R-2800-83AM 18-cylinder radial engines, 2,100 hp (1,566 kW) each


See also

Related development
Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era



  1. ^ "Canadair C.L.204." Retrieved: 26 April 2012.
  2. ^ Taylor 1976, p.17.
  3. ^ "Aerial Fire Control." Cascade Aerospace. Retrieved: 23 May 2012.
  4. ^ "Canadian Civil Aircraft Register: Canadair CL-215". Transport Canada. Retrieved: 23 May 2012.
  5. ^ "Canadair CL-215 - Environment". Government of Saskatchewan ( ). Retrieved: 14 July 2014.
  6. ^ Hoyle Flight International 13–19 December 2011, p. 39.
  7. ^ Keijsper 2008, p. 42.
  8. ^ "Canadair CL-215 T (UD.13T)." Ejército del aire. Retrieved: 8 January 2012.
  9. ^ Keijsper 2008, p. 43.
  10. ^ Hoyle Flight International 13–19 December 2011, p. 49.
  11. ^ Air InternationalOctober 1978, p. 188.
  12. ^ "Turkey's Single Airborne Fire Fighting Fleet". Gokcen Aviation, 2013. Retrieved: 14 July 2014.>
  13. ^ "Our Equipment | Aero-Flite,Inc.Aero-Flite,Inc." Retrieved: 14 July 2014.
  14. ^ "Canadair 215." Retrieved: 25 August 2013.
  15. ^ Keijsper 2008, pp. 40–41.
  16. ^ "ASN Aircraft accident: Canadair CL-215-1A10, YV-O-INC-2, Puerto Ordaz." Retrieved: 26 April 2012.
  17. ^ Keijsper 2008, p. 44.
  18. ^ "Canadair CL-215 Accident database". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved: 23 May 2012.
  19. ^ a b c d Gabriel, Olivier. "Canadair CL-215 Bombardier d'eau" (in French). Retrieved: 23 May 2012.
  20. ^ "Canadair CL-215". Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre, 2012. Retrieved: 23 May 2012.
  21. ^ Taylor 1976, pp. 17—18.
  22. ^ (on land)


  • Hoyle, Craig. "World Air Forces Directory". Flight International, Vol. 180, No. 5231, 13–19 December 2011, pp. 26–52. ISSN 0015-3710.
  • Keijsper, Gerard. "Water-Bombers Required!" Air Forces Monthly, London: Key Publishing, July 2008.
  • Marsaly, Frederic and Samuel Pretat. "Bombardiers d'eau/ Canadair Scoopers." Editions Minimonde76, May 2012. ISBN 9-782954-181806.
  • Pickler, Ron and Larry Milberry. Canadair: The First 50 Years. Toronto: CANAV Books, 1995. ISBN 0-921022-07-7.
  • Taylor, John W. R. (editor). Jane's All the World's Aircraft 1976–77. London: Jane's Yearbooks, 1976. ISBN 0-354-00538-3.
  • "Thai Boats". Air International, Vol. 15, No 4, October 1978, pp. 188–189.

External links

  • Gokcen Aviation
  • Panhellenic Association of Families Lost in Action Aviators
  • on the urban legend
  • The Canadair CL-215 & 415
  • North Carolina Division of Forest Resources Aviation Resources
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