Canadair CL-215 Scooper
Firefighting amphibious aircraft, Canada

Archive Photos 1

[Canadair CL-215 “Scooper” (F-ZBBT) c.2003 at the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre, Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada (9/16/2003 photos by John Shupek, copyright © 2003 Skytamer Images)]

Overview 2

  • Canadair CL-215
  • Role: Firefighting amphibious aircraft
  • Manufacturer: Canadair
  • First flight: 23 October 1967
  • Introduction: 1969
  • Status: Active service
  • Primary users: Canada; Greece; Spain
  • Produced: 1969-1990
  • Number built: 125
  • Variants: Bombardier 415

The Canadair CL-215 (Scooper) was the first model in a series of firefighting flying 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 speeds and in gust-loading circumstances, as are found over forest fires. It is also able to land and take off from short, unpaved airstrips.

Design and Development 2

The CL-215 can be traced back to two early projects by Canadair, the CL-43 and CL-204. The CL-43 was conceived as a logistics aircraft and was based on the design of the Canadian Vickers-built 369 Canso (a variant of the Consolidated PBY Catalina). 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 shoulder-mounted 2,100 hp (1,566 kW) Pratt & Whitney R-2800 piston engines. 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, then known as Protection Civile) in June 1969. Production of CL-215s progressed through five series ending in 1990.

Variants 2

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 PW123AF engines and is currently the only conversion kit installer in the world.

Operators 2

Over a period of 21 years beginning in 1969, 125 of these aircraft were built and sold to customers in 11 countries.

  • Canada: As of January 2016 there were 59 CL-215 registered with Transport Canada.
  • Canada: Buffalo Airways, Yellowknife, Northwest Territories: eight CL-215 1A10.
  • Canada: Conair Group, Abbotsford, British Columbia: four CL-215-6B11 (Series CL-215T).
  • Canada: Manitoba (Government) Air Service: eleven total, seven CL215 1A10; four CL-215-6B11 (Series CL-415).
  • Canada: Government of Newfoundland and Labrador: seven total, two CL215 1A10; five CL-215-6B11 (Series CL-415).
  • Canada: Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, Ontario: nine CL-215-6B11 (Series CL-415).
  • Canada: Ministry of Natural Resources and Wildlife, Quebec: fourteen total, four CL215 1A10; two CL-215-6B11 (Series CL-215T); eight CL-215-6B11 (Series CL-415).
  • Canada: Ministry of Environment Aviation Operations, Saskatchewan: six total, three CL215 1A10; three CL-215-6B11 (Series CL-215T); according to the Ministry of Environment six CL-215P deployed to Airtanker Groups 3, 4 and 5.
  • Greece: Hellenic Air Force, 355 MTM: 21 CL-215s
  • Italy: Societa Ricerche Esperienze Meteorologiche (SoREM): five CL-215s leased abroad and operated on behalf of Protezione Civile
  • Spain: Spanish Air Force, 43 Grupo; Ministry of Environment (INAER): five Ex-Spanish Air Force CL-215Ts
  • Thailand: Royal Thai Navy: one of the two CL-215s delivered in 1978 is used for search and rescue/patrol.
  • Turkey: Gokcen Aviation - Turkish Aeronautical Association: nine CL-215s and the current contractor for the Turkish Ministry of Forestry
  • United States: Aero-Flite, Inc. Kingman, Arizona: five CL-215s

Former Operators

  • Croatia: 885th Firefighting Squadron of the Croatian Air Force and Air Defence operated CL-215s from 1991 to 2003. They have been replaced by CL-415s.
  • France: Sécurité Civile: 15 aircraft operated from June 1969 to 1996, now all replaced with 12 CL-415s.
  • Venezuela: CVG Ferrominera Orinoco: two CL-215s, one crashed on 1989, the other one has been parked ever since.
  • Yugoslavia: Yugoslav Air Force: five CL-215s in service with the 676th Fire Fighting Squadron from 1981, until four sold to Greece in 1995.

Specifications (CL-215) 2

General Characteristics

  • Crew: two pilots
  • Capacity: 18 passengers (utility version)
  • Payload: 5,346 liters (1,176 Imp gal) of water or 5,444 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[22])
  • 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)
  • Max takeoff weight 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)
  • Service ceiling: 14,600 ft (4,450 m)
  • Rate of climb: 5 m/s (1,000 ft/min)


  1. Shupek, John. Photos by John Shupek (9/16/2003), Copyright © 2009 Skytamer Images ( All Rights Reserved
  2. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Canadair CL-215

Copyright © 1998-2020 (Our 22nd Year) Skytamer Images, Whittier, California