BOMBARDIER PLANS a six-point product-improvement package to diversify the capabilities of the Canadair CL-415 water-scooping amphibious fire bomber.

A finite fire-fighting market and interest from Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippines, Sweden, Taiwan, Thailand (for additional aircraft) and Turkey in "missionised" derivatives has prompted the manufacturer to consider definition and development of the package. Changes are likely to include improved ice protection, auto-pilot certification, a larger aft cargo door, relocation of the auxiliary power unit in the wing fairing and increased take-off weights, as well as cabin heating and air conditioning.

Further development would be tied to customer commitment.

Canadair has been working with Malaysia's Maritime Enforcement Coordinating Committee and other Government departments, and with the Swedish Coastguard on surveillance capabilities and coastal patrol. Japanese fire authorities are interested in an urban firefighting capability, independent of surface infrastructure, to control major post-earthquake fires.

Sweden has already tested a piston-engined CL-215, which it plans to lease for another three months in the coming northern summer. Concepts evaluated have included, simulated coastal patrols, customs and immigration enforcement, deployment of buoys and light boats and sampling of oil spills. The Coastguard anticipates that it can complement its requirement with those of fire-fighting authorities during the brief forest-fire season. Malaysia has expressed interest in acquiring the CL-415 in a multi-purpose environmental and search-and-rescue role.

Under current Transport Canada certification, the CL-415's restricted-category 20,865kg "after-scooping" weight is reliant on its load-dumping capability. Canadair will now seek to document structural, performance and aerodynamic justification for land take-offs at 18,600kg under the utility category.

Source: Flight International