With all the climate changes in the world, wildfires are becoming more frequent, more intense, and more widespread than a few decades ago. So there is a high demand for the techniques and technology to combat them. Aircrafts and helicopters can help battle forest fires quickly and effectively by bombing them with huge dumps of water and fire retardants.
De Havilland Aircraft of Canada Limited (De Havilland Canada) announced that it has launched the De Havilland DHC-515 Firefighter program. Designed to battle forests and wildfires, the amphibious firefighting aircraft, formerly known as the CL-515, features a number of upgrades, including the ability to take on a full load of fresh or saltwater in 12 seconds.
The DHC-515 Firefighter turboprop twin is based on the 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. The new generation firefighting aircraft will feature upgrades to increase the functionality and effectiveness of this legendarily rugged firefighting aircraft. It will be capable of carrying nearly 700,000 liters of water into a fire zone per day. The aircraft can refill in 12 seconds from nearby sources such as rivers and lakes instead of needing to return to an airport for additional water.
The DHC-415 firefighter aircraft boasts a straight-wing design with a big wingspan and turboprop engines placed on top for instant thrust and safer maneuvering in mountainous areas. Thanks to its rugged construction, it can also perform in very difficult conditions like the winds generated by megafires and rough seas of up to 6 ft (2 meters).
Other features include state-of-the-art electronic equipment and navigation systems, which would help aircraft battle with fire more efficiently.
The manufacturer already has 22 letters of intent to purchase from European customers for the firefighter aircraft, with the first to be delivered by the middle of the decade. Deliveries beyond the initial 22 would begin at the end of the decade.
The final assembly of the aircraft will take place at DHC’s facility in Calgary, Alberta, where there is currently a support center for the CL-214 and CL-415 models. The company says it intends to hire about 500 employees to handle the new project.
“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 Brian Chafe, Chief Executive Officer of De Havilland Canada. “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.”