Bombardier CL-215 / Canadair CL-215

The Canadair CL-215 (Scooper) was the first model in a series of firefightingflying 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 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.

Bombardier CL-215 Canadair CL-215

Bombardier CL-215 Canadair CL-215

Design and development

The CL-215 can be traced back to early projects by Canadair, the CL-43 and CL-204. The CL-43 was conceived as a logistics aircraft and based on the design from the Canadian Vickers built 369 Canso (variant of 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 2,100 hp (1,566 kW) 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 (Sécurité Civile) 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 Croatia, France, Greece, Italy and Serbia, they are known as “Canadairs.” In Spain they are known as “botijos” (a traditional Spanish porous clay container designed to contain water). 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 (5,300 L; 1,166 imp gal) (12,000 lb (5,400 kg)) fluid capacity, and can refill its tank in ten seconds at 75–80 knots (140–150 km/h; 85-90 mph). With water sources close to fires, CL-215s can deliver 75-125 loads of water in a single day in support of fire fighting efforts.

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


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 PW123AFengines and is currently the only conversion kit installer in the world.

General characteristics

  • Crew: 2 pilots
  • Capacity: 18 passengers (utility version)
  • Payload:
    • 5,346 litres (1,176 Imp gal) of water or
    • 6,123 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 [13])
  • 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


  • Cruise speed: 291 km/h (157 knots, 181 mph) (max recommended power)
  • Stall speed: 123 km/h (66 knots, 76 mph)
  • Range: 2,260 km (1,220 nm, 1,405 mi)
  • Rate of climb: 5 m/s (1,000 ft/min)