It is the only aircraft designed and built specifically for firefighting. It can scoop up to 6,137 litres (1,621 US gallons) of water from a nearby water source, mix it with foam suppressant if desired, and make repeated drops on a fire without having to return to base to refill its tanks. The Bombardier 415 delivers massive quantities of suppressant to a fire in its initial stages, preventing it from getting out of control.
Initial Attack is the first action that is taken to bring a fire under control. The objective is to take suppressive action as soon as possible after the fire is detected. Generally that means attacking it from the air, which requires having aerial firefighting equipment ready during the periods of high fire danger. Constant surveillance is necessary to ensure fires are spotted when they start.
The Bombardier 415 is ideally suited for this mission because it is rapidly airborne. The sooner the aircraft is at the scene of the fire, the greater the probability of success. This aircraft can use any nearby water source to scoop its load and make a large number of drops directly on the fire without having to return to an airfield.
Effective firefighting requires a variety of tools. The versatility of the helicopter makes it a valuable asset for close support of on-the-ground personnel and for putting out small spot fires. The role of the Bombardier 415 is to deliver massive quantities of water or suppressant in direct initial attack.
The Bombardier 415 aircraft is designed to operate under difficult conditions as a result of its excellent power-to-weight ratio (after scooping) of 0.29, its small turning radius and a high-G capability of +3.25 during pull-outs.
The Bombardier 415 is very manoeuvrable. If a body of water is 1,341 metres (4,400 feet) long by 90 metres (300 feet) wide and 2 metres (6 feet) deep, without floating debris, then it is scoopable*. Only 400 metres (1,350 feet) are actually required on the water, the remainder being needed for approach and climb-out. Of course, these distances can be reduced by scooping partial loads or scooping while turning. Speed on the water while scooping is 75 knots. Approximately 10 to 12 seconds are required between touchdown and lift-off to scoop a load.
* Including obstacle clearances of 50 feet, sea level, on a standard day, all operating engines
Water tanks in the Bombardier 415 hold 6,137 litres (1,621 US gallons). The water load is enhanced by an environmentally safe foam additive for superior fire control and economy. The quantity of suppressant delivered in an hour depends on the distance from the water supply to the fire. The Bombardier 415 aircraft delivers from 37,800 to 60,500 litres (10,000 to 30,000 US gallons) an hour in most firefighting situations.
The Bombardier 415 has been used for water landing and scooping in the Mediterranean Sea for more than 25 years. It has performed over 300,000 scooping operations in ocean conditions. Scooping can be performed under almost all conditions in wave heights up to about 3.5 feet.
A pilot can drop the 6,137-litre (1,621-US-gallon) load precisely on a desired spot. Low drop speed, manoeuvrability and good vision contribute to the accuracy of drops. By varying the height from which the drop is made and the sequence of opening the drop doors, Bombardier 415 pilots can spread the water and/or foam mixture so that it poses little threat to people or structures.
The Bombardier 415 has been used extensively to fight wildfires in populated areas. It has demonstrated an ability to control fires without damaging property or injuring fire crews or others on the ground. Foam products are biodegradable in a matter of days.