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The season is on us. Here is a new entry flying for Conair Group Inc.  

Conair receives the first of eleven Q400s previously operated by Flybe

They will be converted into 2,640-gallon air tankers



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IJX-_-BURN-specialists-and-a-drop.jpgWhen fire strikes, you need rapid efficient service. Buffalo Fire Suppression division excels at providing Quick Strike, Call When Needed or Contract Fire Suppression Aircraft. We stand by our commitment to provide aviation related fire suppression support equipment and staff anytime, anywhere.

For the past 26 years, Buffalo Airways has successfully Fire Suppression aircraft on behalf of the Government of the Northwest Territories safely and without incident. Buffalo Airways operates a diversified fleet that is equipped for land or water year round. Our fleet includes:

(2) Twin Commanders TC690s

(2) King Air 100s

(4) Bombardier CL-215s

(2) Lockheed L-188 Electra’s

(8) AirTractor FireBoss AT802F (Operated by Buffalo Airways on behalf of the Government of the Northwest Territories)


Buffalo Airways is the STC holder for the 3000 gla eight door fire retardant tank install on the Lockheed L-188. We have successfully completed installs and certification on C-FIJX and C-FBAQ. They are fully certified with Envelope Protection System to enhance pilot safety and awareness during missions. Our efficient and fast Air Tractor AT802F Fire Bosses are maintained and operated by Buffalo Airways on behalf of the GNWT to protect the forest, communities and mine sites in our rugged Territory.

In addition to the above listed aircraft, Buffalo Airways can make available DC-4’s and a Lockheed P-3 Orion (N922AU).

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Wildfire aviation - Province of British Columbia (gov.bc.ca)

Wildfire aviation


Although airtankers and helicopters are a highly visible part of wildfire response, they do not put out wildfires on their own. Rather, they provide critical support to our crews on the ground.

Depending on fire behaviour, location and weather conditions, the BC Wildfire Service may deploy fixed-wing and/or rotary-wing aircraft (i.e. helicopters) to assist with fire containment and suppression. The Province’s contracted aircraft fleet is repositioned as needed during the fire season to be ready for anticipated fire starts in high-risk areas.

This assistance may be in the form of:

  • initial attack on wildfires that are predicted to (or threatening to) exceed the capabilities of firefighting resources on the ground
  • support crew activities on wildfires where specific, attainable objectives have been identified
  • holding action on wildfires where a delay in the arrival of ground resources is anticipated

This assistance can include:

  • supporting and reinforcing existing control lines
  • limiting the spread of a wildfire by performing controlled drops on or in front of a small fire (or a portion of a larger fire)
  • cooling down hot spots
  • protecting specific values, such as structures that are imminently threatened by a wildfire

Fixed-wing aircraft


Airtankers usually fly in groups of up to four aircraft with a combined capacity of up to 16,000 litres of fire retardant, or over 11,000 litres for a single, heavier aircraft. Each group is led by a “bird dog” plane that directs the airtankers to the most effective and safe drop locations.

There are two types of firefighting airtankers: land-based airtankers and water-skimmer airtankers. B.C. uses both types. Over the course of an average wildfire season, the B.C. government’s contracted airtankers conduct about 560 missions throughout the province. At full operational readiness, the BC Wildfire Service operates a fleet of 20 airtankers and eight bird dog aircraft (in addition to its contracted helicopter fleet).

Amphibious airtankers

Amphibious airtankers are able to “skim” water from lakes and rivers. The BC Wildfire Service’s fleet includes 10 Air Tractor AT-802F Fire Boss amphibious airtankers. They can drop either water, foam or fire retardant, and each is capable of skimming up to 3,025 litres of water in 15 seconds from over 1,700 bodies of water in B.C.

Rotary-wing aircraft


The BC Wildfire Service uses helicopters primarily to transport firefighting crews, fire line personnel and equipment during the initial attack and sustained action phases of wildfire response. Helicopters are also used for infrared scanning, mapping and/or observation of fires, and for deploying crews who can rappel down to the site of a wildfire when there is no alternative means of access (or limited access).

Helicopters can also be used to drop fire retardant, foam or water on  a fire. Water is either scooped up in a large ”bucket” that hangs beneath the helicopter or drawn up into a “belly tank” integrated into the body of the helicopter. Foam can then be added to the belly tank if required.

During the wildfire season, the BC Wildfire Service has exclusive access to five medium-lift helicopters, three medium-lift helicopters equipped with rappel and hoist equipment, and one light-lift helicopter. Many more helicopters are available to assist with wildfire response on short-term contracts, as needed. Helicopters can lift between 360 litres and 9,000 litres of liquid, depending on the type of helicopter and the weather conditions.

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Alberta to test new wildfire-fighting technology this season for about $4.3M

Tools include gel water enhancer systems, high-volume water delivery systems and drones

CBC News · Posted: May 24, 2021 6:30 AM MT | Last Updated: 4 hours ago
A helicopter battles a wildfire in Fort McMurray, Alta., on May 4, 2016. (Jason Franson/The Canadian Press)

The Alberta government will test new technologies used for detecting and managing wildfires this season.

More than $4.3 million will be spent to evaluate tools that include gel water enhancer systems, high-volume water delivery systems, remote wildfire detection cameras and drones.


"The safety of Albertans and their communities is our top priority," said Alberta Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Devin Dreeshe in a release earlier this month.

"So we're moving forward on new firefighting tools and practices, like artificial intelligence and drones, to add even more firefighting tools to our tool kit."

High-volume and gel water enhancement systems

Mike Flannigan, a professor of wildland fire at the University of Alberta, told the Canadian Press last week that May is the busiest month for wildfires in Alberta.

Wildfire information officer Travis Fairweather said that the tools currently being evaluated by the government are part of an ongoing effort to manage wildfires more effectively in Alberta.

"We're always looking at ways that we can improve [how] we fight fires," Fairweather said.

"[But] sometimes it's discovered that these technologies don't work, or aren't cost-feasible, and that's … why we do these evaluations."

Some of the tech is already being actively tested in Alberta, such as high-volume water delivery systems.

They use large quantities of water to douse fires with canons and sprinklers, and can make water available to areas without an abundant resource.

Alberta also has two helicopters equipped with gel water enhancement systems that Fairweather said use fire suppressants to reduce the amount of oxygen available to the fire.

Wildfire detection cameras and drones

Remote wildfire detection cameras are in an earlier stage of evaluation in Alberta.

They can be set up to feed photos and videos of plumes of smoke, or wildfires in their early stages, to computers that learn to recognize fires and alert firefighters to respond.

The cameras can also be set up in remote areas without lookout towers, Fairweather said.

Drones are also being considered, and can be used to investigate the causes of wildfires, navigate areas deemed unsafe for firefighters, and are sometimes more cost-effective than using helicopters.

"It's not often that we do firefighting operations after dark and especially using aircraft … so definitely, we continue to evaluate the viability of drones for purposes such as that," Fairweather said.

Criteria will be used to assess success, cost-savings

While it will take some time to understand how effective the new technologies are, Redwood Meadows fire Chief Rob Evans first acquired a drone to monitor swollen rivers during the 2013 flood.

He said it has become an essential firefighting tool.

"As far as tools for firefighting goes, or emergency management … the data they gather, the photos they gather ... help guide decisions throughout an entire event," Evans said.

The government said after the 2021 wildfire season, the technologies will be evaluated based on criteria that includes their effectiveness and potential cost savings.

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As you would expect, the NWT’s 2021 fire season is off to a slow start. There is instead flooding in some regions after heavy winter snowfall across much of the territory. The exceptions are the Beaufort Delta and parts of the Sahtu.


The Department of Environment and Natural Resources' FireBoss aircraft sits at the Norman Wells airport in June 2020. Sarah Pruys/Cabin Radio

Air tanker fleet | Environment and Natural Resources (gov.nt.ca)

Air tanker fleet


Air tanker bases

The Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) has six air tanker bases, located at the Fort Smith, Hay River, Yellowknife, Fort Simpson, Norman Wells, and Inuvik airports.

Forest Management Division, Aviation Services is responsible for the management and operation of these bases. The Division controls and coordinates air attack operations through the Territorial Duty Officer.

Air tanker fleet

The current GNWT air tanker fleet consists of 10 air tankers and four bird dog aircraft.

Air Tanker Group 1 is based at the Fort Smith airport, and consists of:

  • One Birddog (King Air 100) aircraft identified as ‘Birddog 101’

  • Four Air Tractor 802A FireBoss Air Tanker aircraft identified as Tanker 640, Tanker 641, Tanker 642 and Tanker 643

    Air Tanker Group 2 is based at the Yellowknife airport, and consists of:

  • One Birddog (King Air 100) aircraft identified as ‘Birddog 102’

  • Four Air Tractor 802A FireBoss Air Tanker aircraft identified as Tanker 644, Tanker 645, Tanker 646 and Tanker 647

    Air Tanker Group 3 is located at the Hay River airport, and consists of:

  • One Birddog (AC690 Turbo Commander) aircraft identified as ‘Birddog 103’

  • One Lockheed Electra L-188 Air Tanker aircraft identified as Tanker 416

    Air Tanker Group 4 is based at the Hay River airport, and consists of:

  • One Birddog (AC690 Turbo Commander) aircraft identified as ‘Birddog 104’

  • One Lockheed Electra L-188 Air Tanker aircraft identified as Tanker 417

    Bird dogs and air attack officers

    In aerial attacks on wildland fires, a number of fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters operate in close proximity over wildland fires, which is an automatic restricted airspace. The bird dog pilot has responsibility for the direction of air traffic over and in the immediate vicinity of a wildland fire.

    An Air Attack Officer also flies in the right seat (first officer seat) in the Bird Dog aircraft. He or she assesses the fire and directs the air tankers to the most effective and safe drop locations. The Air Attack Officer is an experienced fire specialist with knowledge of air attack techniques and ground crew strategies so that air tankers can best assist the ground crews suppressing the fire. He or she is also responsible for all communications to crews on the ground, other aircraft in the air, ENR regional offices, and air tanker bases.



    In the air, each Air Tanker Group there is a bird dog aircraft which is provides a lead-in to ensure the flight path and drop height is safe and clear of any obstructions/hazards for the Air Tankers drop.

    Services that Air Tankers provides include:

  • Initial Attack (IA) on wildland fires predicted or threatening to exceed the capabilities of ground resources ;

  • Sustained Action (SA) on project fires where specific attainable objectives are in place; and

  • Holding action on fires where a delay in ground forces is anticipated.

    Air tankers do not put out fires. This is done by fire-fighting crews on the ground.

    In initial attack, air tankers are able to drop water, fire retardant and/or Class A fire-foam on or near small wildland fires to limit their spread until ground crews arrive to extinguish them.

    In sustained action, air tankers:

  • Support ground control lines (by dropping on guard lines to dampen the area);

  • Limit the fires’ growth on portions of the fires perimeter (controlled drops on or in front of a portion of the fire); and

  • Cool hot spots (by Air Tanker short term or long term retardant drops above these identified spots to bring the temperature down).

    Air tanker upgrade in 2017

    In 2017, the existing GNWT skimmer air tanker aircraft has been replaced with eight new Air Tractor 802AF (AT802AF) FireBoss aircraft. Purchasing the new aircraft was determined to be much less expensive than upgrading the existing fleet.

    FireBoss aircraft are capable of working as a land-based aircraft or as a float plane, the Fire Boss can skim water from nearby water sources to continue fighting a fire without having to return to base. The Fire Boss can load up to 3,025 litres of water in 12 to 15 seconds and be back on its way to the fire line in less than 30 seconds.

    Fire retardant, foam, and/or water are dropped by the FireBoss to slow growth of a wildland fire. Depending on the requirements of the mission, water can be mixed with foam inside the aircraft. This delays evaporation of the water and helps it penetrate deeper into the ground. The new air tanker can also carry long term fire retardant (red color), which is ground loaded at an Air Tanker Base before it takes off and helps suppression efforts and assist in reducing wildland fires growth. These different retardant mixtures are used cool it down and assist ground crews in containing the blaze.

    The targeting accuracy of these aircraft allows firefighting crews to take a more aggressive approach to fighting a fire.

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1 hour ago, Fido said:

The picture shows a Bombardier fire bomber but the list of assets does not have that aircraft in the fleet.

Journalistic excellence again?

Goto their site and ask for clarification....  the picture originates from there. ?

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I believe NWT stopped using the 215s when they acquired the AT802 Fire Bosses in 2017 / 2018. Not sure if they took the NWT aircraft, but Longview / Viking has been buying up older piston 215s in the hopes selling them as 515 EAF conversions. At north of $30 million a pop, the customer base is small. You can buy more water capacity in Fire Bosses for a lot less money.

Edited by J.O.
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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 3 weeks later...
On 6/29/2021 at 10:56 AM, J.O. said:

Another tragic accident in firefighting. Condolences to the helo pilot's family, friends and colleagues.


Well this sucks. An emergency AD has been issued because the helicopter had a main rotor separation due to a failed pin in the rotor hub.

"During investigation of a recent Bell 212 helicopter fatal accident in Canada, it has been discovered that one of the outboard main rotor hub strap pin, part number (P/N) 204-012-104-005 with a serial number prefix “FNFS”, sheared off during flight, leading to detachment of the main rotor blade and the main rotor head. It has been reported that the failed main rotor hub strap pin had only accumulated 20 hours of service. 


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UPDATE: 1:55 p.m.

Six water skimmers are hitting the Becker Lake wildfire east of Vernon Sunday afternoon, but boaters on Kalamalka Lake are causing some problems for the pilots.

In addition to 40 firefighters working on the 35-hectare fire Sunday, the team of six planes are providing support to help with suppression efforts.

Fire information officer Aydan Coray said she doesn't believe fire activity has increased throughout the day Sunday, but the skimmers have arrived to lend a hand.

They're collecting water from nearby Kalamalka Lake, but in a post on social media, the BC Wildfire Service says boaters are interfering with the planes.

"This is dangerous both to people on the boat and to our personnel, and interferes with critical firefighting operations," BCWS said. "Please stay away from active wildfire sites whether on the ground, in the air, or on the water."

"Just a reminder to the public to stay off our waterways when we have out skimmer team out there, give them enough room to work," Coray said.

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  • 6 months later...

Iconic Hawaii Mars, world’s largest flying water bomber, listed for sale for $5M

By Simon Little  Global News
Posted January 15, 2022 4:55 pm
 Updated January 15, 2022 4:56 pm
Have $5 million and a burning desire to own the world’s largest flying water bomber?

The iconic Hawaii Mars, known for its years of fighting British Columbia’s wildfires, is on the market with a seven-figure price tag, according to aviation broker Platinum Fighter Sales.

The listing for the 1945 Martin JRM-3 Mars lists its interior and exterior as in 9 out of 10 condition, and says it last underwent annual flight inspections in 2016.


“Will be sold with current Annual at the asking price, ‘As Is Where Is,” the listing states.

The massive aircraft — which has the wingspan of a Boeing 747 — was conceived as a patrol bomber during the Second World War, where it became the largest flying boat to enter Allied service, and was soon repurposed as a transport aircraft.

A Martin Mars Water Bomber. Submitted

Just five of the aircraft were built by manufacturer Martin — just two of which remain today, the Hawaii Mars and the Philippine Mars, both owned by Coulson Aviation and stored at Sproat Lake on Vancouver Island.

Post-war, they were reconverted again in the 1950s to become firefighting aircraft with an impressive payload: the capacity to carry up to 27,000 litres of water.

While there are calls from some members of B.C.’s public to bring the aircraft back into service every wildfire season, they have fallen out of favour with the province.

The massive aircraft fought its last B.C. wildfire in 2016, when it served a 30-day contract with the provincial government.

the BC Wildfire Service has shifted its focus to smaller, more nimble aircraft capable of landing in up to 1,700 bodies of water around B.C.

The Hawaii Mars, due to its massive size, is only capable of landing in 113.

Officials have cited other operational reasons, such as the need to clear personnel from the ground in drop zones, along with cost, for moving away from the Mars.

One of the two remaining Martin Mars Water Bombers in British Columbia sits idle in Port Alberni as a fire burns nearby on July 5, 2015. @benjwest/Twitter

Owner Wayne Coulson has disputed the province’s statistics on where the Mars could take water from before dropping it onto a fire.

Of the two remaining Martin Mars bombers, only Hawaii Mars remains airworthy, according to Platinum Fighter Sales.

Coulson Aviation listed the Hawaii Mars for sale for $3 million in 2016.


“The fire agency in British Columbia doesn’t see, you know, continued use for the aircraft. So we have to reinvent them something different than what they are,” Coulson said at the time.

Coulson Aviation had previously intended to place its sister aircraft, the Philippine Mars, in a U.S. aviation museum, a plan that saw the aircraft repainted in U.S. Air Force colours before the deal hit a snag in 2016 and was put on hold.

Global News has reached out to Coulson Aviation for an interview on the sale.

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  • 2 months later...

And now for the new entry...

De Havilland Aircraft of Canada Limited Launches DHC-515 Firefighter

CALGARY, AB and BRUSSELS, Belgium, March 31, 2022 /CNW/ – De Havilland Aircraft of Canada Limited (De Havilland Canada) is pleased to announce that it has launched the De Havilland DHC-515 Firefighter (formerly known as the CL-515) program.

“After an extensive business and technical review, we are pleased to announce that we have launched the De Havilland DHC-515 Firefighter program, which will involve negotiating contracts with our European customers and ramping up for production,” said Brian Chafe, Chief Executive Officer of De Havilland Canada. 

DHC-515 Firefighter (CNW Group/De Havilland Aircraft of Canada) DHC-515 Firefighter (CNW Group/De Havilland Aircraft of Canada)

The DHC-515 Firefighter will build on the history of the iconic Canadair CL-215 and CL-415 aircraft which have been a critical part of European and North American aerial firefighting fleets for over 50 years.  Important upgrades are being made that will increase the functionality and effectiveness of this legendarily rugged firefighting aircraft. 

European customers have signed letters of intent to purchase the first 22 aircraft pending the positive outcome of government-to-government negotiations through the Government of Canada’s contracting agency, the Canadian Commercial Corporation (CCC). De Havilland Canada expects first deliveries of the DHC-515 by the middle of the decade, with deliveries of aircraft 23 and beyond to begin at the end of the decade, providing other customers the opportunity to renew existing fleets or proceed with new acquisition opportunities at that time.

De Havilland Canada acquired the Canadair CL program in 2016 and has been contemplating a return to production since 2019.  The new DHC-515 Firefighter matches the other aircraft in the De Havilland fleet in terms of lifespan, ruggedness and Canadian aerospace engineering quality.  The final assembly of the aircraft will take place in Calgary, Alberta where work on the CL-215 and CL-415 aircraft currently takes place. It is anticipated that more than 500 people will need to be recruited over the coming years to successfully deliver this program. 

“To bring the DHC-515 into production is important for not only our company, but countries around the world who rely on our aircraft to protect their people and forests,” said Chafe.  “We understand the important role the previous aircraft have played in protecting people and property and as our climate continues to change and summers increase in both temperature and length, the DHC-515 will be an important tool for countries around the globe to use in putting out fires.”

Additional Quotes

“Today’s announcement is an example of the Canadian Commercial Corporation (CCC) supporting Canadian innovators to scale up, reach new markets, and have a positive global impact. Not only is this great news for Canadian exports, but for all the countries that will benefit from its technology advancements and world-class solutions.” – Honourable Mary Ng, Minister of International Trade, Export Promotion, Small Business and Economic Development.

“As the effects of climate change continue to impact countries around the world, CCC and the Government of Canada are proud to stand with De Havilland Canada in providing this world class solution to our EU partners and allies. We look forward to supporting DHC as other governments wishing to procure these next generation aerial firefighting aircraft come forward.” – Bobby Kwon, President and CEO of the Canadian Commercial Corporation (CCC).

“De Havilland Canada’s investment in Alberta represents a new era of diversification and economic growth in Alberta. With the hundreds of jobs being created by the DHC-515 being manufactured here, the sky is the limit for job creation in our aerospace industry.” – Jason Kenney, Premier of Alberta.

Backgrounder: 10 Key Facts about the new DHC-515 Firefighter

  1. Latest in the line of Canadair amphibious aircraft that have continuously set the global standard in aerial firefighting for over half a century.
  2. Perfectly equipped to attack today’s wildfires that are more erratic and prevalent due to climate change. 
  3. Delivers multiple drops, in rapid succession, meaning faster fire suppression and allowing the aircraft and flight crew to better follow the behavior of today’s wildfires.
  4. Delivers the highest quantity of water into the fire-zone per day (nearly 700,000 L), more than twice as much as its nearest competitor.
  5. Refills its tanks in 12 seconds, from nearby fresh or saltwater sources including rivers, small lakes, and oceans, while land-based aircraft must return to airport after each drop.
  6. Has a high-lift wing and turboprop engines with instant thrust, each allowing for safer operation in mountainous terrain and the ability to drop close to fire with superior precision.
  7. Performs in high winds typical with megafires, capable of refilling in rough waters with waves up to two meters caused by those winds.
  8. Turboprop engines produce up to 50% lower CO2 emissions, burning 25% to 40% less fuel than jet engines.
  9. Equipped with state-of-the-art navigational instruments for enhanced safety and improved situational awareness.
  10. The only aerial firefighter aircraft fully supported by the OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) and comes with complementary full life-cycle support services.

About De Havilland Aircraft of Canada Limited

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Out of curiosity I wonder if the CL 515 could be adapted as a rescue aircraft. If so it would be a great aircraft for the RCAF. It could be used to fight forest fires as well as being able to get into small lakes as a rescue aircraft.

Does anyone know whether it could be used as is, or developed that way.

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47 minutes ago, conehead said:

I doubt there is anything in the budget left for such a thing. The RCAF just spent $2.4 billion on a fleet of 16 new SAR aircraft. 


Yeh and they may get operational this summer. Supposed to be operational in 2021 but there is a problem with SAR techs parachuting out the back ramp and the way the aircraft are configured, the C of G is away out of acceptable limits.

Another boondoggle in the purchasing of DND aircraft. Most new purchases are "researched" at HQ with little "present day operators" involved in the discussions. Most planes are selected by Brass Hats that have been flying the BOD for years and have not kept up with the " worker-bees" requirements out in the field.

Happens all the time and I can specify one aircraft where the pilots cross-check was shot to hell as "they" kept changing the cockpit instrument configuration.........however not as bad as the RAF where the Brits build a tank of an aircraft but at the last minute remember they need a pilot so attach a cockpit the size of a one broom closet and say "They will adapt"  🤣😂

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De Havilland to manufacture line of firefighting planes in Calgary

1h ago

CALGARY — De Havilland Aircraft of Canada Limited says it is reviving a water bomber aircraft manufacturing program that will bring 500 jobs to Calgary, Alta.

De Havilland to manufacture line of firefighting planes in Calgary
© Provided by The Canadian PressDe Havilland to manufacture line of firefighting planes in Calgary

The company says it has launched the De Havilland DHC-515 Firefighter program to build on the history of the Canadair CL-215 and CL-415 aircraft. Both aircraft types have been used to fight forest fires in Europe and North America for over 50 years, but are no longer in production.

The company already has signed letters of intent from European customers to purchase the first 22 aircraft, and expects to make its first deliveries by the middle of the decade.

De Havilland Canada acquired the Canadair CL program in 2016 and has been contemplating returning the water bombers to production since 2019.

It says final assembly of the aircraft will take place in Calgary, where support for CL-215s and CL-415s already in service takes place.

The company says it expects the DHC-515 to be an important tool for countries around the globe as climate change increases the intensity and frequency of forest fires.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 31, 2022.

The Canadian Press

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2 hours ago, conehead said:

I doubt there is anything in the budget left for such a thing. The RCAF just spent $2.4 billion on a fleet of 16 new SAR aircraft. 


You're probably right, but this aircraft can land on water, fight forest fires and maybe get to other places that other aircraft can't get to. It could do a great job of augmenting the CC295.

This government has no problem with printing money to do whatever they want to. The big question is how many votes will this get them. I hate to be cynical but politics in both the US and Canada has become all about winning and has very little to do with governing in the best interests of the country.

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13 hours ago, GDR said:

Out of curiosity I wonder if the CL 515 could be adapted as a rescue aircraft. If so it would be a great aircraft for the RCAF. It could be used to fight forest fires as well as being able to get into small lakes as a rescue aircraft.

Does anyone know whether it could be used as is, or developed that way.

Thailand has operated the CL-215 in that way.


Edited by Super 80
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