The Boeing 747 Fighting Wildfires May Be Nearing Its Retirement | #retirement | #elderly | #seniors
Just as the United States prepares for a concerning wildfire season, the investor group that owns the Boeing 747-400 SuperTanker is ceasing operations of the company. This is a worrying move as this aerial tanker has been crucial in fighting fires across California and even the world.
According to Fire Aviation, Global Supertanker president Dan Reese shared that he was informed that investors will be ceasing operations effective from this week. This is a huge blow as the plane had recently been fitted with a new digital drop system and other additions to “make it more safe and efficient.” This amendment was requested by the National Interagency Aviation Committee.
There are talks with potential purchasers. Nonetheless, it’s not clear if the 747 will continue to be used as a firefighter or if it will be converted into a cargo unit.
A powerful unit
The SuperTanker is promoted as the youngest Very Large Air Tanker (VLAT) in the world. However, it has twice the amount of capacity of the next largest aerial tanker in the industry. Overall, it has the capacity to hold much-needed volumes of fire retardant, gel, or water to help tackle tricky wildfires.
“At altitude the SuperTanker operates without any speed, altitude or operational restrictions. The aircraft provides a level of safety to ground personnel, property and natural resources unmatched by any other tanker, civilian or military. The exceptional performance of the SuperTanker is such that it departs 200,000+ pounds below maximum allowable gross weight and can land immediately without dumping fuel or retardant if the operation is cancelled,” Global Supertanker shares on its website.
“When operating from its base in Colorado springs, with its dash speed of nearly 600 mph, the SuperTanker can reach virtually any point in North America in approximately 4.5 hours, ready to discharge its IAB approved load amount of 17,500 gallons of retardant, or 19,200 gallons of water, before landing. With true Global reach, once mobilized, the SuperTanker can be almost anywhere in the world in under 20 hours.”
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A crucial role
This 747 holds registration number N744ST. It joined Global SuperTanker Services in January 2016, but it was previously with Evergreen International Airlines from February 2012. Planespotters.net shares that the aircraft was first deployed by Japan Airlines in November 1991 until it was handed over to AerSale in October 2010.
The plane is can be deployed anywhere where there is an 8,000-foot runway and facilities for aerial firefighting tasks. The unit is also equipped with 14 first class seats and two bunks.
The SuperTanker was first deployed by its current owners in Israel in 2016. Since then, it has worked across several countries. It has been seen in Chile in 2017 and in the fight against Amazon fires in Bolivia in 2019. It’s also been busy on home turf across California.
Altogether, with predictions of an even more challenging wildfire season than normal, it is important that aircraft such as this are in action. Hopefully, this 747 can still fulfill its role heading into the summer.
What are your thoughts about the future of the Global SuperTanker? Let us know what you think of the aircraft in the comment section.