Frequently asked questions about Bombardier's amphibious aircraft

  • What is so special about the Bombardier 415 aircraft?

    It is the only aircraft designed and built specifically for firefighting. It can scoop up to 6,137 litres (1,621 US gallons) of water from a nearby water source, mix it with foam suppressant if desired, and make repeated drops on a fire without having to return to base to refill its tanks. The Bombardier 415 aircraft delivers massive quantities of suppressant on a fire in its initial stages, stopping its progression and preventing it from getting out of control.

  • What is “Direct Initial Attack”?

    Direct Initial Attack is the first action that is taken to bring a fire under control. The objective is to take suppressive action as soon as possible after the fire is detected. Generally that means attacking it from the air, which requires having aerial firefighting equipment ready during the periods of high fire danger. Constant surveillance is necessary to ensure fires are spotted when they start.

    The Bombardier 415 aircraft is ideally suited for this mission because it is rapidly airborne. The sooner the aircraft is at the scene of the fire, the greater the probability of success. This aircraft can use any nearby water source to scoop its load and make a large number of drops directly on the fire without having to return to an airfield.

  • How long does it take to dispatch a Bombardier 415 to a fire site?

    With crews on alert, the Bombardier 415 aircraft can take off within five minutes of the fire call.

  • What is the difference between Scooper aircraft and land based tankers?

    There are three (3) main differences between the Bombardier 415 aircraft (scooper) and other land based tanker aircraft:

    1. The Bombardier 415 aircraft is the only purpose-built firefighting aircraft and is special in its ability to scoop from water bodies nearby and drop on the fire without having to use up time and go back to the airport to re-fill its water tanks.  Land based tanker aircraft need to go back to the nearest re-filling stations in order to re-load its reservoirs after each drop.
    2. The Bombardier 415 aircraft uses Direct Initial Attack action to bring a fire under control.  The Bombardier 415 aircraft uses its maneuverability and precision drop system to drop water and/or foam directly on the fire in order to allow for ground forces to come in close and extinguish it.  The land based tankers use a system whereby they put fire lines ahead of the fire with the notion that once the original fire hits the lines it will slow down spread of the fire and allow for ground personnel to come in close and extinguish it.
    3. The Bombardier 415 aircraft’s unique system of having either water scooping technique and/or foam injection systems allow  for the pilot and the crew on board to be completely autonomous in the air and not reliant on the facilities on the ground. Land based tankers do not have this autonomy because it has to land after each and every drop and uses critical time to refill its tanks.

  • Can the Bombardier 415 work effectively with a variety of other resources?

    Effective firefighting requires a variety of tools. The versatility of the helicopter makes it a valuable asset for close support of on-the-ground personnel and for putting out small spot fires. The role of the Bombardier 415 aircraft is to deliver massive quantities of water or suppressant in direct initial attack.

  • Can the Bombardier 415 operate in difficult weather and wind conditions?

    The Bombardier 415 aircraft is designed to operate under difficult conditions as a result of its excellent power-to-weight ratio (after scooping) of 0.29, its small turning radius and a high-G capability of +3.25 during pull-outs.

  • How much distance does the Bombardier 415 take to scoop its load?

    The Bombardier 415 is very manoeuvrable. If a body of water is 1,341 metres (4,400 feet) long by 90 metres (300 feet) wide and 2 metres (6 feet) deep, without floating debris, then it is scoopable*. Only 400 metres (1,350 feet) are actually required on the water, the remainder is needed for approach and climb-out. These distances can be reduced by scooping partial loads or scooping while turning. Speed on the water while scooping is 75 knots. Approximately 10 to 12 seconds are required between touchdown and lift-off to scoop a load.

    * Including obstacle clearances of 50 feet, sea level, on a standard day, all operating engines.

  • How much water can the Bombardier 415 aircraft hold? How much fire suppressant can it deliver to a fire in an hour compared with other firefighting aircraft?

    Water tanks in the Bombardier 415 aircraft hold 6,137 litres (1,621 US gallons). The water load is enhanced by a foam additive for superior fire control and economy. The quantity of suppressant delivered in an hour depends on the distance from the water supply to the fire. The Bombardier 415 aircraft delivers from 37,800 to 60,500 litres (10,000 to 30,000 US gallons) an hour in most firefighting situations.

  • Can the Bombardier 415 pick up water from the ocean? Can it perform in high waves and choppy seas?

    The Bombardier 415 aircraft and its predecessors, the CL-215 and CL-215T aircraft, have  been used for water landing and scooping in I bodies of water all over the world for more than 40 years. It has performed over 300,000 scooping operations in ocean conditions. Scooping can be performed under almost all conditions in wave heights up to about 3.5 feet.

  • What is the typical drop height and drop speed?

    Usually the aircraft drops at a height of 30 to 35 metres (100 feet to 130 feet) above treetop level. Typical drop speed is 110 knots.

  • How accurate is the drop?

    A pilot can drop the 6,137-litre (1,621-US-gallon) load precisely on a desired spot. Low drop speed, manoeuvrability and good vision contribute to the accuracy of drops. By varying the height from which the drop is made and the sequence of opening the drop doors, Bombardier 415 pilots can spread the water and/or foam mixture so that it poses little threat to people or structures.

  • Is the Bombardier 415 effective in urban areas?

    The Bombardier 415 has been used extensively to fight wildfires in populated areas. It has demonstrated an ability to control fires without damaging property or injuring fire crews or others on the ground. In addition, foam products are biodegradable in a matter of days.

  • What are the other names given to the Bombardier 415?

    The Bombardier 415 is also known as Superscooper, Canadair and Bombardier d’eau.

  • How do I get more information about Bombardier’s amphibious aircraft?

    Contact us at:
    Bombardier Specialized and Amphibious Aircraft
    3400 Douglas B. Floreani
    Saint-Laurent, Quebec
    Canada H4S 1V2
    Phone: +1 514-855-7984
    Fax: +1 514 855 7604