Rekindled interest in the Canadair, a device designed in Quebec

Renewed interest in the Canadair, an aircraft designed in Qué bec


Forget the Boeing 737 or the Airbus A380; the plane of the hour is not carrying passengers, but tons of water to fight the fires in Europe. The Canadair, born of Quebec genius, is on everyone's lips, and its production will leave again outside Quebec.

At the Farnborough Air Show, the manufacturer De Havilland, which had acquired the CL-215 and CL-415 from Bombardier, sensed a renewed interest in the small plane yellow and red, a tireless ally of firefighters and a true star of the European media. 

“It is fire season in Europe and unfortunately many of our customers are busy fighting fires. It is certain that in the context, we really feel a greater demand “, confirms Jean-Philippe Côté, vice-president at De Havilland Canada, during an interview with Le Journal.&nbsp ;

Designed by Canadair in Montreal, with the help of the Government of Quebec, the plane was launched in 1969. It was for a long time the only one of its kind to fight fires, and it has the distinction of being able to bail out from 5000 to 6000&nbsp ;litres of water by brushing against a lake or an ocean. 

The program had been taken over by Bombardier in the 1980s, the components then being manufactured at their Saint-Laurent plant. Due to a lack of contracts, it was sold in 2015. 

Currently, there are still 160 Canadair in circulation in the world; some have been in use for several decades.

“There are a lot of them that are early examples that have over 40 years of use, it's a very durable plane,” Cote said.

Climate change

In recent years, production of the aircraft had been stopped, but due to climate change and the multiplication of major fires , government interest is growing.

De Havilland has also been in discussions for several months with at least six countries of the European Union, notably France, for the manufacture of around twenty planes.  

“This request justified relaunching production. We have started investments to make improvements to the aircraft. The cockpit and certain systems will be modernized, and more durable materials will be used,” explains Mr. Côté. >

This new aircraft, the DHC-515, should obtain its certification in 2025. A first delivery is scheduled for 2026. Assembly will take place in Calgary and it should require the hiring of 500 workers, but De Havilland promises that the impacts will be felt as far away as Quebec. 

“We have manufacturing operations in Victoria, engineering in Western Canada and Toronto, but many of our suppliers are in Quebec, including Pratt & Whitney who will supply the engines. It will be a very Canadian product,” assures Mr. Côté. tanks. 

“Bombardier has successfully refocused its activities on business jets, and our research and technology projects are more focused on eco-responsibility”, underlined Spokesperson Mark Masluch.  

– With the collaboration of Sylvain Larocque

The Canadair in a few figures

1944: Founding year of the Canadair company

1969 : Beginning of production of the Canadair, the very first water bomber in history

1986: Purchase of the program by Bombardier

2015: The program is sold to Viking Air, a subsidiary of Longview Aviation, owned by Sherry Brydson, wealthy heiress of the famous Thomson family. Another subsidiary of the company, De Havilland, obtains after the fact the rights of Canadair 

220: Number of Canadair manufactured between 1969 and 2015

160: Number of Canadair still operational

Do you have a scoop for us?

Do you have something to share with us about this story?

Do you have a scoop that our readers might be interested in?

Email us at or call us directly at 1 800-63SCOOP.