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  • Canadair CL-415




    The Canadair CL-415 (Superscooper, later Bombardier 415) is an amphibious aircraft built originally by Canadair and subsequently by Bombardier and Viking Aircraft.

    General Information

    It is based on the Canadair CL-215 and is designed specifically for aerial firefighting; it can perform various other roles, such as the search and rescue and utility transport.


    Development of the CL-415 commenced in the early 1990s, shortly after the success of the CL-215T retrofit programme had proven a viable demand for a turboprop-powered model of the original CL-215. Entering production in 2003, in addition to its new engines, the aircraft featured numerous modernisation efforts and advances over the CL-215, particularly in terms of its cockpit and aerodynamics, to yield improved performance. By the time the programme's production phase had commenced, it was owned by Bombardier, who continued production up until 2015. During October 2016, the CL-415 programme was acquired by Viking Aircraft; this company has produced a further modernised model of the aircraft, designated as the CL-515 or the Viking Canadair 515 First Responder.


    The CL-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 CL-415 has increased operating weight and speed, yielding improved productivity and performance. Due to the increased power of its pair of Pratt & Whitney Canada PW123AF turboprop engines, each capable of generating up to 1,775kw of thrust, these are located closer to the fuselage in comparison to the CL-215's arrangement. While this repositioning would typically reduce lateral stability on its own, this is rectified via the addition of an inverted fixed leading edge slat forward of the righthand horizontal stabiliser. Furthermore, winglets have been adopted on this model for the purpose of improving directional stability.


    The CL-415 can scoop up to 6,140 l (1,350 imp gal; 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 CL-415 was specifically developed to provide the capability to deliver large quantities of suppressant in quick response to fires. This is stored within large tanks which are located mostly beneath the cabin floor within the hull, although a header tank above this level is present on either side of the fuselage. The airframe is built for reliability and longevity, making extensive use of corrosion-resistant materials, predominantly treated aluminium, that facilitates its use in salt water. Accordingly to Flight International, the CL-415 has good handling on the water, being relatively easy to operate in comparison with several other amphibious aircraft. The CL-515 can hold up to 7,000 litres (1,850 US gallons), and has a refill time of 14 seconds.


    The aircraft requires 1,340 m (4,400 ft) of flyable length to descend from 15 m (49 ft) altitude, scoop 6,137 l (1,350 imp gal; 1,621 US gal) of water during a twelve-second 410-metre-long (1,350 ft) run on the water at 70 knots (130 km/h; 81 mph), then climb back to 15 m (49 ft) altitude. The aircraft can also pick up partial loads in smaller areas, and can turn while scooping if necessary. Management of the water bombing system is centralised via a water status panel on the flight instrumentation, giving direct control to the pilots; various dispersal patterns and sequences can be selected. A manually-operated emergency dump lever is also present, bypassing this system. Bombardier have claimed that the type performs 6.9 water drops for every flight hours of the type. The CL-415GR variant features higher operating weights, while the CL-415 multi-role model is available for purposes in a paramilitary search and rescue role and utility transport.


    For more details of the development, operational history and variants, click here. 



    Canadair CL-415 C-FTXG land taxy.jpg

    Canadair CL-415 fire bombing.jpg

    Canadair CL-415 F-ZBEG.jpg

    Canadair CL-415 on water.jpg


    Crew: 2Capacity: 6,137 l (1,350 imp gal; 1,621 US gal) (waterbombing), up to 18 paratroops, up to 2,903 kg (6,400 lb) of cargo.
    20.4 m (66 ft 11 in)
    28.38 m (93.11 ft)
    9.01 m (29.55 ft)
    Wing Area:
    100 sq m (1,080 sq ft)
    Wing Loading:
    212.5 kg/sq m (43.52 lb/sq ft) Maximum After-scooping
    Empty Weight:
    13,608 kg (30,000 lb)
    19,890 kg (43,850 lb) Firefighting, Land
    Fuel Capacity:
    4,650 kg (10,250 lb)
    2 × Pratt & Whitney Canada PW123AF turboprop, 1,775 kW (2,380 hp) each ISA+20ºC Flat rated
    Maximum speed: 359 km/h (223 mph, 194 kn) Max Cruise
    Cruise Speed:
    333 km/h (207 mph, 180 kn) Normal Cruise
    Stall Speed:
    126 km/h (78 mph, 68 kn) MLW, Landing Configuration
    Ferry range: 2,427 km (1,508 mi, 1,310 nmi) 278 km/h (150 kn) Long Range Cruise
    Takeoff Dist.:
    783 m (2,569 ft) (land), 814 m (2,671 ft) (water)
    Landing Dist.:
    674 m (2,211 ft) (land), 665 m (2,182 ft) (water)
    Rate of Climb:
    5.9 m/s (1,170 ft/min) (ISA, MTOW)

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    There  is something strange about the headline photo of 28. There seems to be no inboard wing on the RHS, so it looks asymmetric. I know it is just the photo, but cant is figure out why it looks that way.

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    An aircraft of this type was firebombing in the Dandenongs about 20 years ago and I watched it from my home as it approached from the northwest to lift water from Cardinia reservoir. Clearly audible was the sound of the engines pitch up as the water scooped up. It had a very short load and drop sequence. Great to see and hear but I am sure not great fun flying.

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