The design of the piston-engined Canadair CL-215 grew from a symposium on Forest Fire Protection held in Ottawa in 1963. Built by Canadair (now Bombardier Aerospace) of Montreal, it was intended as a firefighting amphibian aircraft to replace a wide assortment of miscellaneous types, many of World War II vintage, converted to the waterbombing role in the 1960's. It first flew in October 1967 and initially entered service with the Province of Quebec and the French Protection Civile. The CL215 has been utilized in Canada by the air services of Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Alberta, Newfoundland, Yukon Territory and Northwest Territories, nd many were exported to France (Protection Civile), Italy (Protezione Civile), Spain, Greece, Yugoslavia, Thailand and Venezuela. Although purpose-built as a waterbomber, it has also has served in the transport, aerial spraying, maritime surveillance, and search and rescue (SAR) role.
The rugged CL-215 waterbomber pocessess excellent slow speed handling and low altitude performance. Its' simple design that emphasizes ease of maintenance and reliability. It is amphibious and can operate from both land or water bases. It can deliver either water or retardent from huge hull-mounted tanks. In its waterbombing role, it carries a 5,455 litre (1,200 Inp. Gal.) payload of water that can be scooped from a lake in 10 seconds. One of these effective aircraft set a world record by making 225 drops on a fire in one day.