747 Supertanker’s world tour

Evergreen continues their road trip, uh, air trip, with the 20,000-gallon 747 air tanker they call a “Supertanker”. On July 10 they were in Sacramento. Last week they were in France, Germany, and Spain where they made their first ever drop on a real fire during a demonstration in Spain. And on Tuesday they were in Edmonton, Canada and Fairbanks, Alaska.

The company will donate the services of the 747 today, making a drop on the Railbelt Complex of fires, which has burned 340,000 acres 12 miles northwest of Nenana, Alaska. This will be the first drop on a real fire in the United States for the aircraft.

Sam White of Evergreen points out the four nozzles that dispense retardant. Photos by Eric Engman
The pressurized retardant tanks on the 747 Supertanker. The retardant is forced out by compressed air, much like on the MAFF C-130 air tankers.

And speaking of very large air tankers (VLAT), in a cost-saving move, CalFire recently downgraded their exclusive use agreement for one of the DC-10 air tankers (tanker 910) to a Call When Needed (CWN) agreement, meaning they will only pay for the air tanker when and if they use it. They still have CWN agreements for the second DC-10 operated by 10 Tanker Air Carrier, Tanker 911 and the 747 air tanker.

The U.S. Forest Service issued a solicitation for VLAT’s on June 25. We have not heard if they have awarded any contracts through this process.

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.