50 years after the arrival of the first Canadair CL-215 amphibious aircraft in the Air Force for firefighting -news

Fifty years ago, the first two Canadair CL-215 amphibious aircraft arrived in Spain to fight forest fires. Some devices that represented a real revolution in fire fighting at the time. The first CL-215s were purchased by the Department of Agriculture and received on February 8, 1971 at Getafe Air Base, Montreal, and then inducted into the 803 Air Force Squadron. On August 3, 1989, this division signed the contract to convert the CL-215 piston-engine aircraft to the CL-215T, the first of which was received in August 1990. In July 2006 the first CL-415.

Throughout its history, this fleet has suffered 8 serious accidents, 5 of which were fatal, in which 15 of its members lost their lives.

In order to make them operational, the then General Directorate of Forestry managed an agreement with the Air Force, on whose orders they now operate within the 43 Group of Air Forces which over time became the current interdepartmental agreement between the Ministry of Defense and the Air Force Ministry of the Environment Change and the Demographic Challenge (MITECO) for the operation and maintenance of the MITECO state air force fleet by the Air Force. This ministry offers a range of resources which the autonomous communities cannot take over and which are used strategically throughout the national territory. Underneath and as a basic instrument are amphibious aircraft of the 43rd Air Force Group.

At the international level, Spain is a benchmark for fighting forest fires. At the European level, it has made a contribution to the European Civil Protection Mechanism since 2018, which is dependent on the European Commission. In addition, international support has been reinforced since 2019 with the provision of two Air Force-operated amphibious aircraft from this ministry to the European Commission for missions abroad in support of other countries with high extinction needs, a European initiative called RescEU Transition.

Waiting for the Canadair 515

The Spanish government has taken steps to strengthen air resources to fight forest fires. She became a launch customer for the Canadair 515 amphibious aircraft and developed the CL-215 and CL-415 from Viking, a Canadian company that has acquired its compatriot Bombardier’s entire line of twin turboprops (including the Twin Otter and Dash 8), which gradually leaves the aviation division after the regional C-series twinjet, which is now the Airbus A220, has also been sold and the CRJ program has been practically completed. although it still maintains its lineup of executive twin jets derived from the latter.

The program, like most CL-215Ts (converted from the primitive CL-215 model to turboprops) and its more modern version, the CL-415, is funded from the Agriculture, Fisheries and Food portfolio, although like these they are operated by the Air Force . In particular, it would involve the purchase of 4 newly manufactured samples and the conversion of 8 CL-415s currently in operation to the EAF (Enhanced Aerial Firefighter) version with two Pratt & Whitney PW123AF turboprops and Avinica Collins Pro Line Fusion, which includes the 515, however, there will be 7,000 liter incendiary bombardment tanks instead of the 6,000 of the CL-415 that was discontinued in 2015 while the CL-215 was discontinued in 1990.

They will serve to replace part of the 14 CL-215T (UD.13, according to the Spanish military designation) and 4 CL-415 (UD.14) operated by the Air Force (all but 3 of the CL-415 , Property) of Agriculture) in the 43rd Group of the Armed Forces, organically dependent on the General Air Command (MAGEN) and operationally from the UME Military Emergency Unit and functionally from the Ministry of Ecological Change.

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