In 1989 the Ministry of Agriculture approved a project for the full renewal of the state-owned fire bomber fleet. This fleet is composed by Canadair CL-215 aircraft, of which Spain has purchased a total of twenty between 1971 and 1987.
Several accidents had reduced its number to thirteen. This fleet has to perform fire suppression missions for the whole country (more than 500,000 km2 of which 50% are classified as wildlands).
The age of most aircraft and the expected difficulties to obtain spare parts were some of the facts leading to the decision of renewal.
Fig.1. A CL-125 water bomber on a forest fire suppression task
The renovation program consists of the substitution of the old piston engines by turboprop, incorporating some improvements in the dropping system (e.g. the use of foam, air navigation instruments and the air conditioning of the cockpit).
By the termination of the renewal program (1992) the fleet will be composed by ten new aircraft and other five renewed planes of the present fleet with modernized turboprop engines.
The CL-215 T with turboprop engines flew over fire for the first time last summer in Spain performing test flights. The final delivery of the first two CL-215 T is scheduled for January 1991 after incorporating some modifications which are on the way in the Spanish Air Force Maintenance Center.
ICONA, the state agency responsible for forest fire management, has received financial support for this program from the European Bank of Investments (BEI) and from the Banco de Crédito Agrícola (a state-owned bank in Spain).
Two of the old aircraft have been sold by ICONA to the Italian firm SISAM, the official contractor operating the CL-215 for the Italian Government.
Area de Defensa contra Incendios Forestales ICONA-Subdireccion General de Proteccion de la Naturaleza Gran Via de San Francisco, 35 E-28005 Madrid