The U.S. Forest Service has activated one of the DC-10 air tankers twice this year to supplement the fleet of nine exclusive use air tankers available to help firefighters suppress wildfires. But now, for the first time since the Oak Glen fire in 2009, both of 10 Tanker Air Carrier’s DC-10s are working at the same time. On Tuesday both Tanker 910 and Tanker 911 were assigned to fires on which they were the sole air tankers working the fires.
Rick Hatton, President of 10 Tanker Air Carrier, told Wildfire Today:
While this is not the exclusive use contracting we seek, we are hopeful that the contribution two DC 10s will make toward effective fire suppression this season will convince the authorities that multiple 10s should become a permanent part of the future fleet.
The DC-10 always carries 11,600 gallons of retardant and does not have to reduce their load based on density altitude (air temperature and elevation) like all other air tankers. The P2Vs which comprise eight of the nine air tankers now being used on exclusive use use contracts can only carry about 2,000 gallons. The newer next generation air tankers, three of which will begin working on fires later this year if a contract dispute can be settled, have a 3,000-gallon capacity. One BAe-146 that has been operated by Neptune Aviation since last fall can also hold up to 3,000 gallons.
The DC-10 is classified as a “Very Large Air Tanker” and its size makes it impossible to be accommodated at most air tanker facilities. However, it can reload with retardant at eight bases in the western United States, has a cruising speed of 564 mph, and has a capacity equal to almost six P2Vs. A P2V cruises at 225 mph.