Canadair CL-215 in action!! Must Watch Video

Explore more about Canadair CL-215

Also known as Scooper, Canadair is a firefighting amphibious aircraft. Amphibious aircraft is the aircraft with capability to take off and land from both water and land and are generally categories as flying boats and floatplanes. Canadair CL-215 is a flying boat. Flying boats rely on the fuselage or hull for buoyancy, while floatplanes rely on external pontoons or floats

It is first model built by Canadair in the series of amphibious flying boat aircraft. It is specially designed for water bombing, specifically to fight forest fires. Initial Concept is presented in 1963 with particular emphasis on hydrodynamic and aerodynamic. It was initiated to fight fire in forests.

When Canadair CL-215 is on action-

When Canadair CL-215 goes for an action, lot of safety and precautions measures are taken care of. While scooping, inspection is made to check whether the water bodies are of sufficient length and depth or not as well as checked for obstructions in between. It ensures the safety of aircraft and flight crew too. The Air Attack Officer gives instructions on how to drop and from where to drop as two tanks are present. Foam like solutions is preferred to increase the hold time in fire.

Applications & Usage of Canadair CL-215

  • The Canadair CL-215 was the first aircraft ever designed specifically for Water Bombing to fight fire in forests.
  • As Canadair CL-215 has the ability to scoop 12000lbs of water into the tanks within few seconds, it provides excellent Initial Attack and Sustained Action support for ground crews.
  • Also use to stop fire in remote areas and real estates.
  • The PBY Canso modified it as military submarine patrol aircraft.
  • Ultimate support to helicopters in rescue operations, even though they cannot hover, they are faster and have longer range than helicopters as wings are more efficient than a helicopter’s lifting rotor. This makes an amphibious aircraft, such as the Grumman Albatross and the Shin Meiwa US-2, useful for long-range air-sea rescue tasks.
  • Useful as “Bush planes” engaging in light transport in remote areas, where they are required to operate not only from airstrips, but also from lakes and rivers.


Canadair CL-215 aircrafts are heavier, more complex and more expensive to purchase and operate as compared to landplanes but are also more versatile.

It is the only aircraft to be built specifically to fight forest fires.

  • Capacity: 18 passengers (utility version)
  • Payload: 5,346 liters (1,176 Imp gal) of water or 5,444 kg (12,000 lb) of chemicals
  • Resource satellite tracking and phone system
  • Cruise Speed –296 Km/h (160 Knots)
  • Take Off Speed – 177 Km/h (95 Knots)
  • Pick Up Speed – 150 Km/h (80 Knots)
  • Drop Speed – 194 Km/h (105 Knots)


  • Two Pratt & Whitney R-2800-83AM
  • 18-cylinder radial engines, 2100hp (1566KW) each
  • Horsepower – 2,100 per engine
  • Rate of Climb – 1,000 feet per minute
  • Stall speed: 123 km/h (66 knots, 76 mph)
  • Range: 2,260 km (1,220 nm, 1,405 mi)
  • Service ceiling: 14,600 ft (4,450 m)


  • Wing span – 93 feet 10 inches
  • Length – 65 feet 0 inches
  • Height – 29 feet 5 inches

Weight Limitations:

  • Empty weight – 28,340 lbs
  • Maximum takeoff weight from land: – 43,500 lb
  • Maximum takeoff weight from water: – 37,700 lb
  • Airport Requirements

Runway Length

  • 5,000 foot paved surface
  • Pavement Classification Number (PCN)
  • Loaded – 5.7
  • No load – 4.3
  • Aviation Operations maintains and operates 6 CL-215’s
  • Flown in a groups of 2 CL-215’s and a Bird Dog

Bomb Tanks

  • Two internal 600 gallon tanks
  • 1,200 imperial gallons (1,441 US / 5,455 liters)
  • Effective drop length – 328 feet (100 meters)
  • Two bomb doors
  • Foam volume is pre-selected by the pilot then injected into the tanks prior to dropping
  • Foam Injection
  • Typically 3.6 gallons is injected per drop
  • 90 gallon (108 US) onboard reservoir
  • Scooping Time: 8 – 10 seconds
  • Minimum Scooping Distance: 3,940 ft (1.2 kilometers)
  • Minimum Lake Depth: 6 feet (2 meters)
  • Dump Time: 2 seconds
  • Duration on a Fire: 4 hours maximum
  • Up to 40 take off and landings in a four hour mission 

Problem with Canadair CL-215

It is critically important to ensure the correct positions of wheels in landing. Even though the amphibian aircraft can come up and down, still a check is must. Landing in water, wheels should not come into picture, even in wet grass landing too. Wheels down while landing in water will flip the aircraft upside down. Landing wheels up on land will of course damage the aircraft.

Variants of Canadair CL-215

CL-215T was introduced in the year 1987 as variant of Canadair CL-215 along with improvements in handling by changes in wing’s design and using more powerful more powerful Pratt & Whitney turboprop engines.

The Canadair CL-215 and successor Bombardier 415 are examples of modern flying boats and are used for forest fire suppression.

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