Bombardier 415 / CL-415 Superscooper

The Bombardier 415 is a Canadian amphibious aircraft purpose-built as a water bomber. It is an aircraft designed and built specifically for aerial firefighting and is based on the company’s CL-215 flying boat. It is marketed in the United Statesas the “Superscooper.”

Design and development

Bombardier 415

Bombardier 415

In 1987, following market trends towards more efficient, powerful and reliableturboprop powerplants, Canadair undertook the task of retrofitting a number of CL-215 airframes (17) with the Pratt & Whitney Canada PW123AF engines, providing a 15% power increase over the original piston engines. The retrofitted aircraft were designated CL-215T and also featured many aerodynamic and systems improvements including powered flight controls, cockpit air conditioning, as well as upgraded electrical and avionics systems. The most notable external features of the CL-215T retrofit were the aerodynamic additions to the wings andempennage.

Based on the success of the CL-215, the company introduced the CL-415, a new-build production series beginning in 1993. The 415 has an updated cockpit, aerodynamics enhancements and changes to the water-release system as well, creating a modern firefighting amphibious flying boat for use in detecting and suppressing forest fires.

Compared to the CL-215, the 415 has increased operating weight and speed, yielding improved productivity and performance. The 415 can scoop up to 6,140 litres (1350 Imperial gal or 1,620 US gal) of water from a nearby water source, mix it with a chemical foam if desired, and drop it on a fire without having to return to base to refill its tanks. The 415 was specifically developed to provide the capability to deliver massive quantities of suppressant in quick response to fires. The aircraft is built for reliability and longevity, with use of corrosion-resistant materials. The new 415GR has higher operating weights while the Bombardier 415 multi-role is available for use in a paramilitarysearch and rescue role and utility transport.

The 415 is currently assembled at the Bombardier Aerospace facility near North Bay/Jack Garland Airport in North Bay Ontario, where the planes can occasionally be seen testing on Lake Nipissing.

Operational history

The “415″ first flew on December 6, 1993 with the first deliveries in November 1994.[2] Orders from many countries soon followed. Derived from its predecessor’s nickname, it acquired the name, “Super Scooper” in light of its greatly enhanced performance as a water bomber and fire suppressant weapon. In recognition of its abilities in the dangerous but necessary tasks of fire fighting, the aircraft was awarded the prestigious Batefuegos de oro (gold fire extinguisher). The award citation in part read “This is the most efficient tool for the aerial combat of forest fires, key to the organization of firefighting in a large number of countries. The continuous improvements to meet the needs of forest firefighting have made these aircraft the aerial means most in demand over more than 30 years.”

The aircraft requires 1340 m of flyable area to descend from 15 m altitude, scoop 6,137 litres of water during a 12-second 410 m-long run on the water, then climb back to 15 m altitude. According to the Bombardier website,[5] the 415 takes “12 seconds, travelling at 130 km/h (70 knots) and 410 metres (1,350 ft), to scoop up a 6,137-litre (1,621-US-gallon) water load… The advanced Bombardier 415 aircraft scoops water from sites that are only two metres (6.5 ft) deep and 90 metres (300 ft) wide. When the water site is too small for a full pick-up, the Bombardier 415 takes a partial load and returns to the fire. The Bombardier 415 amphibian doesn’t need a straight scooping path. Since the aircraft is still in ‘flying’ mode while scooping, pilots can easily manoeuvre around river bends or visible obstacles in the water.”

Specifications (415)

General characteristics
  • Crew: 2 pilots
  • Additional Seating: one on jump seat, eight on bench seats
  • Payload: 6,400lb (2,900 kg)
  • Length: 65 ft (19.82 m)
  • Wingspan: 93 ft 11 in (28.6 m)
  • Height: 29 ft 3 in (8.9 m)
  • Wing area: 1,080 sq ft (100 sq m)
  • Airfoil: NACA 4417
  • Empty weight: 28,400 lb (12,880 kg)
  • Maximum fuel weight: 10,250 lb (4650 kg)
  • Maximum takeoff weight (from land, disposable load): 43,850 lb (19,890 kg)
  • Maximum takeoff weight (from land, non-disposable load): 41,000 lb (18,600 kg)
  • Maximum takeoff weight (from water): 37,850 lb (17,170 kg)
  • Max Capacity (Water or Retardant): 13,536 lb (6,140 kg)
  • Maximum weight after scooping: 47,000 lb (21,360 kg)
  • Maximum landing weight: 37,000 lb (16,780 kg)
  • Powerplant: 2 × Pratt & Whitney Canada PW123AF turboprop, takeoff power: 2,380 shp (1,775 kW) each

Performance

  • Maximum speed: 223 mph (359 km/h (194 kt))
  • Cruise speed: 207 mph (333 km/h (180 kt))
  • Stall speed: 78 mph (126 km/h (68 kt))
  • Range: 1,518 miles (2,443 km)
  • Service ceiling: 14,700 ft (4,500 m)
  • Rate of climb: 1,600 ft/min (8.1 m/s)
  • Takeoff distance (ISA, land): 2,750 ft (840 m)
  • Takeoff distance (ISA, water): 2,670 ft (815 m)
  • Landing distance (ISA, land): 2,210 ft (675 m)
  • Landing distance (ISA, water): 2,180 ft (665 m)
  • Minimum water depth: 6 ft (1.8 m)

Avionics

  • Honeywell Primus 2 Radio Navigation
  • RNZ-850 with ADF, VOR/ILS/Marker Beacon and DME
  • Litef/Honeywell LCR93, Attitude and Heading Reference System
  • Honeywell EDZ-605 EFIS with Dual EADI and EHSI
  • Radio Altimeter (Honeywell AA-300)
  • Parker-Gull Three-tube Active Matrix LCD Integrated Instrument Display System
  • Dual CIC/Aerosonics Air Data Computers
  • Dorne & Margolin ELT-8 Emergency Beacon
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