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corporation Edit this on Wikidata
Industryaerospace industry Edit this on Wikidata
FateAcquired by Bombardier
SuccessorBombardier Aerospace
HeadquartersMontreal, Quebec, Canada Edit this on Wikidata
Canadair Plant One

Canadair Ltd. was a civil and military aircraft manufacturer in Canada. It was a subsidiary of other aircraft manufacturers, then a nationalized corporation until privatized in 1986, and became the core of Bombardier Aerospace. The name "Canadair" is a portmanteau of Canada and air.

Canadair's origins lie in the foundation of a manufacturing centre for Canadian Vickers in the Montreal suburb of Saint-Laurent, at Cartierville Airport. Canadair Plant One is still there, although the airport no longer exists.


Absorbing the Canadian Vickers Ltd. operations, Canadair was created on 11 November 1944 as a separate entity by the government of Canada as a manufacturer of patrol Consolidated PBY "Canso" flying boats for the Royal Canadian Air Force. Benjamin W. Franklin became its first president.[1] Besides the ongoing PBY contract, a development contract to produce a new variant of the Douglas DC-4 transport, was still in effect. The new Canadair DC-4M powered by Rolls-Royce Merlin engines emerged in 1946 as the "Northstar."

Canadair Sabre in the colours of the Golden Hawks, on display at the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum, Mount Hope, Ontario

In the immediate postwar era, Canadair bought the "work in progress" on the existing Douglas DC-3/C-47 series. In 1946, the US Electric Boat Company bought a controlling interest in Canadair. The two companies merged to form the American company General Dynamics (GD) in 1952. In 1954, GD purchased Convair - created by the merger of Consolidated Aircraft and Vultee Aircraft - and reorganised Canadair as its Canadian subsidiary.

Nationalization and privatization[edit]

In 1976, the Canadian government acquired Canadair Ltd. from US company General Dynamics. It remained a federal crown corporation until 1986 when, having experienced record losses during its development of the Challenger business jet, the Mulroney government sold it to Bombardier Inc. It became the core of Bombardier Aerospace.

As part of Bombardier, Canadair lives on in the series of business jets or regional jets known as "RJ Series" or CRJs. More recently the branding has been dropped, and new projects from all of Bombardier's various aircraft divisions are now known simply as Bombardier Aerospace.


Canadair has a record of several aviation firsts. The CL-44D, based on the Bristol Britannia, was the first design that allowed access by swinging the entire rear fuselage. The CL-89 and CL-289 were the first surveillance drones to be put into service in several countries' armed forces. The experimental CL-84 was the first VTOL aircraft that rotated the wings to achieve vertical lift-off (tiltwing). The CL-215 was the first purpose-designed water bomber.

In 1965–66 Canadair built a batch of Flxible New Look buses under license. All 50 were for the Montreal Transit Commission.

In the late 1950s the US Army contracted Canadair to develop a small light-weight all-terrain amphibious tracked vehicle. In turn, Canadair developed the CL-70 RAT Remote Articulated Track [2] which, while not a commercial success, gave Canadair the experience for the upgraded CL-91 Dynatrac, which was a marketing success and purchased by the US Army as XM-571.[3]

Canadair had diversity in other projects. The "Canarch" division was involved in curtain wall design and manufacture for a number of buildings. They also produce the cabins for many air traffic control towers operated by the Federal Aviation Administration in the United States. Both tracked and air-cushioned vehicles were designed, but only a few samples were built.


Model Name Type Crew Passengers Launch dates Notes
CL-1 Canadair CL-1 Flying boat First flight: License-built variant of the Consolidated Model 28-5 (PBV-1A or Canso A and OA-10A-VI
C-4 & C-5 North Star Cargo aircraft/Airliner 2 or 3 52 First flight: 1946
First del'y: 1948
License-built variant of the Douglas DC-4
CL-13 Sabre Fighter aircraft 1 0 First flight: 1950
First del'y: 1950
License-built North American F-86 Sabre
CL-28 Argus Maritime patrol aircraft up to 15* First flight: 1957
First del'y: 1960
Development of the Bristol Britannia; *normal flights also included a reserve crew of four
CL-30 CT-133 Shooting Star Trainer (aircraft) / ECM / Communication 1 or 2 0 First flight: 1952
First del'y: 1952
License-built Lockheed T-33 Shooting Star
Trainer (aircraft) 2 0 Launch date: 1960
First flight: 1962
First del'y: 1966
CL-43 Twin-engine logistics concept aircraft[4] Never built, but later influenced the design for the CL-204 (later as CL-215); modified floatplane based on PBV-1 Canso (PBY-1 Catalina) with two R-1340 engines[5]
CL-44 the Forty-Four
CC-106 Yukon
Military transport aircraft/Cargo aircraft 9 134 Launch date: 1959 Based on Bristol Britannia
CL-45 ASW concept helicopter 1954 Never built; joint effort with Hiller Aircraft and was to use three T38-GE2 engines[5]
CL-52 Bomber 1956 A USAF Boeing B-47B Stratojet was loaned to the RCAF and turned over to Canadair to test the Orenda Iroquois PS-13 engine for the Avro Arrow project. After the Arrow was cancelled the aircraft was returned to the U.S.[6]
CL-60 Trainer/transport aircraft 1 / 2 3 / 12 1952 Beech T-36 fuselage and final assembly; program cancelled in 1953[7]
CL-61 RAT (Remote Articulated Track) Armored personnel carrier 1959 Prototypes for the CL-70[8]
CL-66 Cosmopolitan Transport aircraft 2 52 First flight: 1959 Modified Convair CV-540
CL-70 RAT (Remote Articulated Track) Armored personnel carrier 1959 Prototypes for the CL-91 Dynatrac[8]
CL-84 Dynavert Vertical/Short Takeoff/landing Experimental aircraft 2 up to 15 combat troops First flight: May 1965 Late 1960s - No production aircraft
CL-89 & CL-289 Surveillance Drone none 0 First flight: 1964
First del'y: 1969
CL-90 Starfighter Strike fighter / Trainer (aircraft) 1 or 2 0 First flight: 1961
First del'y: 1962
License-built Lockheed F-104 Starfighter
CL-91 Dynatrac Armored Personnel Carrier 1960s [8]
CL-204 Water bomber 1962 Based on CL-43 and Canadair CL-1 Canso (variant of Consolidated PBY Catalina), the concept led to production of the larger CL-215
CL-210 Satellite antenna n/a n/a 1965 Installed at Shirleys Bay, Ontario[9]
CL-212 Hovercraft 1964–1967 Development transferred to General Dynamics Electric Boat[9]
CL-213 Fisher All-terrain vehicle 1 1 1963–1964 [8]
CL-215 Scooper Water Bomber 2 up to 18 passengers (utility version) First flight: 1967
First del'y:1969
In 2016, Viking Air Ltd. acquired the Type Certificates (manufacturing rights) for the Canadair CL-215 aircraft.
CL-218 Transit bus 1 45 1965–1966 License-built Flxible New Look bus
CL-219 CF-5 (CF-116 Freedom Fighter) Strike fighter / Fighter bomber 1 or 2 0 First flight: 1968 License-built Northrop F-5 Freedom Fighter
CL-225 Satellite antenna n/a n/a 1965 Installed at Lac-Bouchette, Quebec[9]
CL-227 Sentinel Remote control unmanned aerial vehicle none 0 First flight: 1980
CL-251 Subcontract n/a n/a 1971–1975 Wing panels and other components for the Dassault Mercure airliner[7]
CL-252 1972 Modification of two Lockheed L-188 Electra airliners for Environment Canada ice patrols[7]
CL-257 Subcontract n/a n/a 1973–1985 Fuselage sections for the Boeing 747SP[7]
CL-281 Subcontract n/a n/a 1977–1994 Components for the Lockheed CP-140 Aurora and P-3C Orion[7]
CL-415 Superscooper Water Bomber 2 1 on jump seat, 8 on bench seats First flight: 1993
First del'y: 1994
In 2016, Viking Air acquired the Type Certificates (manufacturing rights) for the Canadair CL-415 aircraft.
CL-600 Challenger Business jet 2 8 to 19 First flight: 1978
Certification: 1980
CL-600 CRJ 100/200 Regional jet 2* 50 First flight: 1991
Introduction: 1992
*plus flight attendants
CL-600 CRJ700/900/1000 Regional jet 2* 66-104 First flight: 1999
Introduction: 2001
*plus flight attendants


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Canadair." Archived 2011-02-07 at the Wayback Machine Project North Star Restoration Primer, April 2003. Retrieved: 31 December 2011.
  2. ^ "Canadian RAT can scurry anywhere." Popular Science, December 1959, pp. 118–120.
  3. ^ "CL-91 Dynatrac." Canadian America Strategic Review. Retrieved: 31 December 2011.
  4. ^ "Canadair Forty Four Trivia." Swingtail: The Newsletter of the CL44 Association, December 2001. Retrieved: 31 December 2011.
  5. ^ a b "Canadair Designations." Retrieved: 31 December 2011.
  6. ^ Block, Burwell, ed. "The CL-52/B-47B." Archived 2011-09-30 at the Wayback Machine The B-47 Stratojet Association. Retrieved: 4 June 2011.
  7. ^ a b c d e "1952 Subcontracts". Retrieved 9 January 2012.
  8. ^ a b c d "1956 Vehicles". Retrieved 9 January 2012.
  9. ^ a b c "1958 Special Products". Retrieved 9 January 2012.

External links[edit]