Both DC-10s are being used on fires

Tanker 911 dropping Poco Fire
Tanker 911 dropping on the Poco Fire in Arizona, June 15, 2012. Photo by Ian James.

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.

Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, Bill Gabbert now writes about it from the Black Hills. Google+

14 thoughts on “Both DC-10s are being used on fires”

  1. I am so delighted for 10 Tanker Air Carrier Crews & Staff. Now praying for a miracle that they are given an exclusive contract for both T910 & T911 so that they don’t have to shut down operations on November 15.

  2. Very good! Go DC-10’s!
    One more tool in the toolbox.
    sometimes a screwdriver ,
    sometimes a ball peen hammer…

  3. Nice to see them working. I worked for Jordan Air and we built the tanks for these awesome machines. There is a sense of pride to see our work helping the cause.

  4. I’m in awe watching the DC-10 tanker fight the fire that’s burned over 80,000 acres just across the valley. Thanks, guys!!

        1. Since this is in the arid west how effective are the 215’s? What kind of turn around times do they have?

  5. Midwest– We got a break with some rain but the fire was very active on the west boundary yesterday. CL-215s 262 and 264 were returning to Goose Creek Res. for water every approximately 25 minutes with the fire 35 miles away. I could see them circle at least once before dumping and I saw one circle after leaving the dump, so I don’t know how direct their attacks or any details.
    I also never saw them take on water. They entered the canyon holding the reservoir downwind and seemed to land out of my sight. They then took off against the wind more than five minutes later and exited the canyon already airborne. The thunder of engines coming from Goose Creek canyon was impressive!

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