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What Is a Super Scooper?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
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  • Last Modified Date: 20 September 2016
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A Super Scooper is a firefighting aircraft capable of collecting water from lakes, rivers, and oceans for delivery to a fire in the vicinity. This nickname usually refers to a line of planes originally manufactured by Canadair before the company was folded into Bombardier. The Bombardier 215 and 415 are two examples of the Super Scooper family. Nations around the world use these specially fitted planes in wild-land firefighting to deliver water quickly and accurately.

The crew of the Super Scooper collects water by carefully controlling altitude and air speed to skim over a body of water, with the scoops of the aircraft, located in the belly, in the open position. When the aircraft is fully loaded, they close the scoops and increase altitude to reach the fire. As the plane moves, the water tumbles inside, expanding into a froth. For delivery, the crew opens the scoops again, controlling the plane to make sure it stays on target as it rapidly jettisons the load. After delivery, the crew can close the scoops and repeat the collection process.

In average firefighting conditions with a body of water in close proximity, the Super Scooper can deliver nine loads of water in an hour. This will make a significant dent in the fire, especially combined with on-the-ground efforts. The foamy nature of the water on delivery ensures wide coverage, unlike a stream of plain water, and can increase the rate of fire suppression.

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These planes are also very rugged and durable, and can land on short airstrips as well as unpaved or poorly maintained airstrips. This can be important when a Super Scooper services a remote fire, as it needs to be able to land for refueling and servicing. If the plane had to return to an urban area with a better airstrip, this would limit the number of trips it could make. Rugged design is also critical in environments where high winds, lightning, and other hazards may be present.

A Super Scooper can also carry flame retardant chemicals. It is a multipurpose firefighting tool. Nations with Super Scoopers and trained crew can send them across considerable distances to provide firefighting services, and may lend them to other countries in need if they do not have access to amphibious aircraft for firefighting. The loan of fire crews and equipment across international borders is common in emergency situations when a nation's own fire service may be stretched too thin to provide adequate firefighting services.

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