The aircraft flies at high speed (approximately 100 mph) just above the surface of a lake or reservoir, scooping up copious amounts of water into its belly. In just 12 seconds, the plane can accumulate 1,600 gallons of water, to be subsequently dropped onto nearby fires raging out of control. This scooping ability obviates the need to return to a water "refilling station" which could possibly be very far away. A pilot must be certified to operate a seaplane, to ensure water conditions are safe for scooping (i.e., not having choppy waves).
While mostly used to fight Canadian wildfires, this aircraft is also leased to California firefighting agencies for their fire season.