The Bombardier 415 aircraft is a twin-engine turboprop specifically designed for firefighting. The Bombardier 415 has the ability to take off and land in short distances on any type of surface from water to dirt or gravel. This makes it also ideal for many types of missions including disaster relief, firefighting, law enforcement and military transport.
The Bombardier 415 was designed from the start for fighting fires. The Bombardier 415 has a pressurized cabin and is capable of carrying up to 6,500 gallons (23,000 liters) of retardant or firefighting chemicals. In addition the fuselage can be quickly reconfigured for transporting cargo including troops and equipment.
The Bombardier 415 made its maiden flight in 1995 and entered service in 1997. The Bombardier 415 is still being built and sold to many different countries including the US, South Korea, India and Mexico.
As of December 2012 more than 100 Bombardier 415’s have been delivered to customers around the world. The French military operates 37 Bombardier 415 aircraft under the designation “SAFRAN” and the French Air Force operates 16 Bombardier 415 aircraft. The Canadian military operates a total of seven Bombardier 415 (CC-115) aircraft.
The Canadian military has operated a total of eight Bombardier 415 (CC-115) air tankers since 1996. Of the eight aircraft allocated only six are still active with one having crashed in 2002 and another put into storage. With only six active aircraft, the Bombardier 415 has not been able to meet Canada’s firefighting needs.
The Canadian federal government did recently commit to purchasing four new Bombardier 415 (CC-115) air tankers, bringing the total number of aircraft to ten. If all goes well Canada should have fourteen Bombardier 415 (CC-115) air tankers by 2017.
Spain has purchased a total of nine Bombardier 415 air tankers, which are operated by the Spanish Air Force. The Spanish government has also purchased two additional aircraft and plans to add them to their fleet in 2014.
Below is a list of the ten countries that operate Bombardier 415 (CC-115) air tankers:
Canada – 8 aircraft
France – 37 Aircraft under the name SAFRAN
South Korea – 8 Aircraft
Spain – 9 Aircraft
United States of America – 10 aircraft (all operated by CAL FIRE)
Portugal – 1 Aircraft
Colombia – 2 Aircraft
India – 4 Aircraft
Mexico – 5 Aircraft
The Bombardier 415 scoops up water by skimming the surface of lakes and rivers at about 130 km/hr. The Bombardier 415 can scoop up to 2,700 liters (680 gallons) of water in just one pass. When fighting a fire the Bombardier 415 will make multiple passes over the same area ensuring that each time there is enough water to extinguish the fire.
The 415 releases water by opening the doors underneath the rear of the aircraft. The Bombardier 415 can hold 7,000 liters (1,850 gallons) of water and when empty it will land on an 8 degree down slope to prevent damage to its landing gear.
Canadian military pilots have predominantly been posting positive comments about the Bombardier 415 on social media. One example:
“I have just finished a tour of duty in Afghanistan and I have never seen a better performing aircraft in my life! The Bombardier 415 does what it says it will do, if you need water. The Bombardier 415 is the only firefighting aircraft that can land on rugged terrain (rocky mountains) with minimal or no damage to the landing gear or structure of the aircraft.”
None of the Bombardier 415s that Canada operates are equipped with glass cockpit technology, which is standard on most modern commercial airliners. Even so, pilots say that it is an easy and straightforward aircraft to fly.
“Takes off in about 800 feet and lands at about 1,000 feet. No sweat.”