A firefighting aircraft drops a load of water on the Mount Carmel forest fire 2010. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Mount_Carmel_forest_fire33.jpg
08 Aug 2023

Several deadly crashes with firefighting aircrafts in 2023 - and recent years


Three people died on Sunday following a helicopter crash during a firefighting mission in  California, reports the CBC.

The two helicopters involved in the crash collided while fighting a wildfire near Cabazon, Riverside County.

One helicopter managed to and safely while the other crashed into the ground. Everyone on board were killed.


On July 20, a Canadian helicopter pilot was killed while helping fighting  a wildfire in the province of Alberta, Canada. The helicopter crashed near Haig Lake, 140 kilometres northeast of the city of Peace River, Alta. The 41-year-old pilot was flying the aircraft alone, reports the CBC. 

The crash was the third  firefighter death in recent days involving wildfire-fighting efforts in Canada, reports among others, the Calgary Herald. 


Photo credit: A firefighting aircraft drops a load of water on the Mount Carmel forest fire 2010.
Wikipedia Commons License


A still photo from a Greek state television video which was broadcasted during the deadly Canadair mission in July 2023
A still photo from a Greek state television video which was broadcasted during the deadly Canadair mission in July 2023. The video shows the aircraift flying very low to the ground while dropping their water load, and then catching a tree with one of the wings. 

Click on the image to read a BBC article about Canadair water bombers and to see the disturbing  video of the crash.  


Canadair water bomber in deadly crash in Greece

In late July 2023,  two people were confirmed dead after a plane fighting the wildfires in Greece crashed. The Hellenic Air Force Canadair CL-215 crashed on July 25 after performing a water drop on a fire in the area, reports AerialFireaMagazine and several international media.  

Local media reported that the plane’s wing touched a tree after dropping a load of water. Video footage showed the plane crashing into the ground and exploding. 

The defence ministry said two Greek air force pilots, Commander Christos Moulas, 34, and his 27-year-old co-pilot Pericles Stefanidis, were killed when their Canadair CL-215 plane crashed on Tuesday.

The accident occurred about 30 minutes from the town of Karystos on the island of Evia near Athens. 


In a BBC article about Canadair firefighting aircraft,  Giulio Fini, a Canadair commander and the managing director of Avincis Italia, is interviewed about the accident: 

"It's very hard to see for any professional, but especially for Canadair crew. There are not that many of us, and we all more or less know each other, it's a bit of a brotherhood," he says representing the aerial emergency services company that handles Italy's Canadair fleet.

"When we see scenes like [the crash in Greece], we put ourselves in the pilots' shoes - and our families do too. It's a blow. At the same time, it's motivation to learn to avoid accidents, to improve from a technical point of view."

Italy reportedly has one of the largest Canadair fleets in the world, with 18 aircraft and 100 pilots. One of the few Canadair pilot training centres in the world is near Rome, and the only Canadair flight simulator is in Milan.

According to the article,  in 2022, Canadair planes dropped more than 153 million litres of water on Italian territory and tackled 2,200 fires. This July alone, Canadair pilots clocked almost 800 hours of work.


Other recent, reported Canadair crashes:´

Italy 2022: The Aviationist.com, and several other international media,  reports of a Canadair crash in Italy on October 27, 2022. The aircraft and its crew was involved in fighting a forest fire on Mount Calcinera, in the municipality of Linguaglossa, province of Catania, Sicily, Italy. The two pilots on board the aircraft are still officially missing in the crash.

Turkey 2021. As CTIF.org reported on August 16, 2021, a Beriev-200 firefighting aircraft crashed while fighting an extensive forest fires in southern Turkey. It crashed on the slope of Engizek Mountain at uring a mission fighting the fire in the Onikisubat district of Kahramanmaraş, about 50 km NW of Gaziantep.

Spain / Portugal 2020: A Canadair crashed while fighting wildfires in the Lindiso region, on the border with Portugal. While approaching the burning area, the airplane was apparently flying too low and impacted ground, causing the tail to detach. The aircraft crashed on a rocky area located near Lobios, on Spanish territory. The cockpit was destroyed upon impact and the Portuguese copilot aged 66 was killed while the Spanish captain aged 39 was seriously injured, reports Bureau of Aircraft Accidents. 

Portugal 2017: A water dropping plane is said to have crashed in in Portugal on June 20, reported Global News.  Emergency services in Portugal said Tuesday they were making headway in controlling a major wildfire that killed 64 people in the central area of the country, but with the welcome news came as another fire nearby grew had spread, and reports had come in that a water-dropping plane had crashed. 

Please be advised this list may not be complete.