The only water-scooping air tanker that the U.S. Forest Service has under exclusive use contract will be based at Lake Tahoe, California this summer at the South Lake Tahoe Airport. It recently returned from spending several weeks working on wildfires in Alaska.
The CL-415 can skim across the surface of a lake and scoop 1,600 gallons of water to fill its tank. If a suitable lake is near a fire, this capability can result in large quantities of water helping firefighters on the ground suppress a blaze — especially if two are working in tandem as they usually do in Canada. Water scooping air tankers are also used extensively in several European countries.
In October, 2013, the contract for the aircraft, with a potential value of $57 million, was awarded to Aero-Flite. It is a five year deal with a provision to add a second aircraft if both parties agree.
The CL-415 is leased from TENAX Aerospace by Aero-Flite. It is a brand new aircraft and is the only CL-415 in the United States.
In June, 2013 Aero-Flite received a contract from the U.S. Forest Service for two Avro RJ85 “next generation” air tankers.
(UPDATE July 24, 2015)
The Super Scooper made 21 drops of 1,621 gallons of water each on #KyburzFire yesterday. Total of 34,021 gallons were dropped on the fire
— EldoradoNF (@EldoradoNF) July 24, 2015