DHC-515 firefighting seaplane reloads from bodies of water in 12 seconds
De Havilland Canada has introduced its latest seaplane for battling forest and wildfires, the DHC-515 Firefighter. The new plane features a number of upgrades, including the ability to take on a full load of fresh or saltwater in 12 seconds.
Forest and wildfires have become an increasing concern in recent years and with this has come a growing interest in the techniques and technology needed to combat them. One of the more spectacular methods of putting out fires in remote locations is to use aircraft to bomb them with huge dumps of water and fire retardants.
Based on the Canadair CL-215 and CL-415 aircraft, the DHC-515 Firefighter started life as the CL-515 program. According to De Havilland, an extensive business and technical review has cleared the way for the improved seaplane to go into production for an international clientele.
The DHC-515 is a multi-role aircraft equipped with internal tanks. Most firefighting airplanes are land-based and must pump water aboard, but the DHC-515 only has to land in a body of water, open the seacocks and let the water flow in, which it does at twice the rate of its nearest competitor, according to the company. This allows it to not only reload in seconds but also to make repeated sorties, delivering up to 700,000 liters (154,000 gal) per day.
In addition to fast loading, the DHC-515 boasts a high-lift wing and turboprop engines for instant thrust and safer maneuvering in mountainous areas. It can also handle very difficult conditions, like the winds generated by megafires and rough seas of up to two meters (6.5 ft).
Other features include a state-of-the-art navigational and avionics suite. It can also be quickly converted with special spray apparatus for insect control or oil spill dispersant. Its large cargo doors allow it to be used for disaster relief or to act as a medevac unit.
Orders have been placed for 22 of the aircraft, with the first to be delivered around 2025.
"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."
Source: De Havilland of Canada