De Havilland Canada Launches DHC-515 Firefighting Aircraft

De Havilland Canada said it will begin production of a new firefighting aircraft in response to the prevalence of wildfires around the world.

The CL-415 EAF, currently the latest in the line of Canadair aerial firefighters, will soon be joined by the next generation DHC-515 Firefighter. [Courtesy: De Havilland]

De Havilland Aircraft of Canada Ltd. said it launched its DHC-515 Firefighter program and expects to begin delivering aircraft by the middle of this decade. The company said European customers have signed letters of intent to purchase the first 22 aircraft built. 

The DHC-515 Firefighter is a successor to the well-known Canadair CL-215 and CL-415 amphibious that have been used extensively for firefighting in North America and Europe for more than 50 years. The new model incorporates upgrades designed to increase its overall firefighting performance.

The DHC-515 can refill its tanks from nearby fresh or saltwater sources in 12 seconds instead of returning to an airport like land-based aircraft must. The company said the new aircraft can drop up to 700,000 liters of water per day on fire zones.

De Havilland Canada acquired the Canadair CL program in 2016 and said it has been considering returning to production since 2019, in part owing to the prevalence of wildfires in many regions.

“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."

The company said it will assemble the new aircraft in Calgary, Alberta, where it currently works on the CL-215 and CL- 415 models. De Havilland said it expects to recruit more than 500 people to support the program. Following delivery of the first 22 aircraft, the company said it plans to begin delivering additional units at the end of this decade.

Jonathan Welsh is a private pilot who worked as a reporter, editor and columnist with the Wall Street Journal for 21 years, mostly covering the auto industry. His passion for aviation began in childhood with balsa-wood gliders his aunt would buy for him at the corner store. Follow Jonathan on Twitter @JonathanWelsh4

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