The CL-215T was designed to be a simple turbine update for the piston-powered CL-215. Initially, Canadair converted two aircraft to turbine configuration in 1989 to act as development and technical demonstrator aircraft.
The first of these prototypes flew on June 8 that year, and retrofit kits for piston CL-215 aircraft to the new standard were offered. However, Canadair elected not to continue with the CL-215T kits as the internal business case favoured new production aircraft over the conversion program, and the new CL-415 was developed.
CL-215T vs CL-415
- A CL-215T carries around a 300-lb-lower payload than the CL-415 and does not have an EFIS flight deck.
- The major visual difference is the CL-215T has a two-door bomb bay while the CL-415 has a four-door bomb bay. (Which one is better is continuously debated by the worldwide operator base.)