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Supertanker

avbug

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The "supertankers" have their place, like all other "tools in the toolbox" in the firefighting arsenal, but it's a very limited one. The assertion in the article that the 747 takes the place of ten other tankers is ridiculous for several reasons.

It's very expensive, has been contracted on a call when needed basis, and isn't contracted in the federal system: it's contracted with the State of California. The DC-10 came in the same way, and wasn't contracted federally, but by CDF/Calfire. Why? The Feds didn't want to touch it.

Able to operate from just one base, able to use only their own dedicated leadplane, limited by low maneuverability, high drops, long turnarounds, the inability to tactically fight a fire, drift issues, FOD issues over the fire, and the fact that other assets have to clear out when they're in the fire traffic area mean limited useage. Further, it's definitely not an initial attack assett, and that's the chief value of any tanker.

I certainly hope they do well, but let's not overestimate what it is.
 

TMMT

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I really can't see this thing zipping in and out of the canyons. Seems like its more for show, or a wheat field fire in Kansas.

Might come in handy for riot control next time all the local wildlife in South Central gets restless and cranky...
 

avbug

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It's for extended lines and direct attack, and may prove useful in such cases, but the applications for both are very limited. Direct attack isn't a typical tactic, and building long, straight retardant lines isn't something we normally do. Particularly in the mountains. Where downhill runs often require unique and creative ways of putting the aircraft close to the terrain, a swept wing aircraft such as the 747 isn't able to do what single engine or large air tankers can do; it's primary function is a higher retardant run with either enough volume to cool a fire (nothing will cool an active fire in timber) or to put out a straight long line...and a line can't stay straight if the altitude varies, the wind varies, or the terrain beneath the aircraft varies with wind.
 

Zoneload

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ACS Appointed Agent for Largest Fire Fighting Aircraft in the World

09-Jul-2009
CharterX Professional Plus member Air Charter Service is delighted to announce that it has signed an exclusive contract with Evergreen International Aviation of Oregon, USA to become the European agent for its Boeing 747 Supertanker.

Since 2002, Evergreen International Aviation has been developing the Supertanker - an advanced aerial fire fighting aircraft converted from a Boeing 747. The aircraft’s drop capabilities, effectiveness, safety standards and operational flexibility are all revolutionary. It is the most advanced, targeted and largest capacity fire fighting jet in the world. With a 77,600 litre (20,500 gallons) capacity, it is capable of carrying almost twice the amount of retardant than any other fire fighting aircraft. It is also the only aircraft to have a variable pressure delivery system, and is able to perform segmented drops, meaning it can fight more than one fire in a single mission. It also has loiter capability enabling ground control to direct it to specific areas.

The Supertanker also has the ability to respond quickly to a variety of environmental and homeland security threats. Wide area decontamination, soil stabilization, oil spill response, and radiation knockdown are all within the response capability of the Supertanker, making it the most versatile aerial application vehicle in the World.

The Supertanker won certification for operation this season after receiving its interim approval letter from the Interagency Air Tanker Board. The aircraft also received its Supplemental Type Certificate from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in November 2008. It is now available to assist world fire fighting agencies during the 2009 season and beyond. The award is unique because the Supertanker has an 8:1 drop ratio compared to that of all other current fire fighting aircraft, meaning the Supertanker will forever change the way wild land fires are fought. The plane is the first of a fleet designed to accommodate the needs of U.S. and International private and public agencies.

Tony Bauckham, Managing Director of ACS, was formerly Executive Vice President of Evergreen International Airlines, and was involved from the early stages in the development of the Supertanker. He commented: “After so much hard work from the Evergreen team it is exciting to see this project completed. ACS feels privileged to be able to offer this aircraft within Europe to reduce the damage caused by costly forest fires. Europe has experienced several notable forest fires in the last few years, and the Supertanker is a major addition to the continent’s fire fighting capabilities.”

E-mail your press releases, news tips and feedback to the CharterX News Editor at News@CharterX.com
 

avbug

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Like I said, I hope all the best for them, but let's be honest...

It is also the only aircraft to have a variable pressure delivery system, and is able to perform segmented drops, meaning it can fight more than one fire in a single mission.

The evergreen 747 is NOT the only aircraft to have a variable pressure delivery system, and in truth most don't need a pressurized delivery system. All tankers can fight more than one fire in a single mission, including SEATs.

It also has loiter capability enabling ground control to direct it to specific areas.

Sure, it's got "loiter" capability, as do all tankers...but at 29,000 an hour, not too likely that the crew is going to be called on to provide directions for a ground engine to get to the fire...not going to happen. All tanker pilots (experienced tanker pilots, that is) have that capability, and occasionally do perform that task. Most tanker crews have 10 to 20 years or more of experience over the fire...whereas the 747 crew does not.

The award is unique because the Supertanker has an 8:1 drop ratio compared to that of all other current fire fighting aircraft, meaning the Supertanker will forever change the way wild land fires are fought.

If they're referring to coverage level, it's no different than other type I, II, and III tankers.

The Supertanker also has the ability to respond quickly to a variety of environmental and homeland security threats.

Ah....no. Quickly? The longest turnaround time of any tanker in the fleet, and the most limited capability so far as choice of reload bases and operations bases, to say nothing of fueling requirements, runway lengths, bearing surfaces, turnaround distances and times, etc.

Wide area decontamination, soil stabilization, oil spill response, and radiation knockdown are all within the response capability of the Supertanker, making it the most versatile aerial application vehicle in the World.

Whereas any other tanker can perform the same role, but from a much wider selection of runways and loading facilities with much smaller demands on ground crew, fuel resources, support equipment, etc...it's hardly the most versatile. Simply the biggest. It would be better if they'd just come out and say "we're the biggest." But they don't...they're hawking bad information. Truth is that the most versatile airplane for oil spill response, soil stabilization, and decon work is still the Air Tractor AT-802.
 

avbug

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From the Associated Air Tanker Pilot's Association board, a translation of the Spanish article on the first Evergreen live fire drop:

River Basin, Spain 23 July (EFE). - The drop made by an Evergreen Boeing 747 Supertanker yesterday on the Poyatos fire in the mountainous area of River basin is the first live fire drop made by the largest fire airplane in the world. It was not considered especially effective because the terrain is not appropriate for such a large airtanker. The airplane made a drop on the south flank of the fire yesterday afternoon. The water appeared to evaporate before reaching the ground; T947 had to drop high due to aircraft size and virulence of the flames, according to the advisor of Agriculture and Rural Development, Jose Luis Martinez Pebble. However, the person in charge castellanomanchego said that the aircraft would probably be more effective in terrain less steep and rugged. Thus they have transferred it from the Council of Agriculture and Rural Development to the wildfire people at the Ministry of Environment and Rural Means and Marino (MIMAM). It was emphasized that on the south flank of the fire where the Supertanker made it’s drop, not even the CL415 scoopers of the Ministry could attack the fire directly. So the terrain was so extreme that this drop should not be considered a fair test of the B747 airtanker’s capabilities. In any case, Spain has affirmed that it is thankful to Evergreen for the use the aircraft.
 

avbug

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As of a couple of days ago, the State of California cancelled the contracts for the very large air tankers (DC-10's, and impending 747), specifically Tankers 910, 911, the Evergreen 747. This is brought on by budget shortfalls. The state retains the option of using the aircraft on a call when needed basis. However, the state is also demobilizing the very large air tanker base at Victorville. The cancellation is expected to save seven million dollars.
 

firepilot

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Tanker 911 and 947 were never on exclusive use contracts. Both have always been on a CWN basis along with other aircraft (such as the Mars and Butlers 7s). Tanker 910's exclusive use contract was cancelled last week due to the new budget and will now join the before mentioned aircraft on a CWN contract.
 

avbug

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This is true. However, demobing the base at Victorville is new, and it means that neither Tanker10 nor Evergreen now have anything more than a maybe-we'll-call. The lack of an exclusive use for T-910 with the USFS originally nearly did them in, and the big saving grace was that California was willing to offer something, at a negotiated reduced amount from their original asking. With that set aside now, and the Evergreen airplane on the last leg of it's sales tour (dropping in Alaska, presently), and the state out of money, it's not a good sign.

Certainly Victorville can be set up again, and will be with personnel drawn off SBD and other bases, but the change is significant.
 

firepilot

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Within the CWN agreement it states that Victorville will be fully operational within 24hrs of aircraft activation (the 24 hr period is similiar to that contractually set for the DC-10's and 747 CWN activation period). In my opinion it's not a big deal. The state's aircraft gamble will save money if the DC-10's days on duty are fewer than 22 for the remainder of the season. Also, the 747 did one demo drop on a large fire in the Minto Flats area three days ago for the Alaska Fire Service. Saturday, Cliff and crew brought the a/c home to Marana where it will be home based for the season.
 

avbug

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That's the way it goes.

Don't expect CDF/Calfire to jump at an expensive platform when the state is bankrupt, though.

Thus far the federal government has been loath the contract a VLAT tanker for some of the reasons previously mentioned...to say nothing of it being low on funds, too.
 

avbug

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Good. It was ordered up yesterday and then canceled. It will be good to see it dropping on an active, revenue fire. I wish them the best of luck.
 

propsarebest

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Looks like according to Blue sky it flew down to SBD and did a few turns, then back to MCC.
 

scubabri

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yah, that was pretty cool, I'm at SBD tanker base, and you could see it drop from here.. mud kept coming and coming and coming.. then it came around again, did the same thing.
 
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