In the file photo above, Air Tanker 944, a 747-400, drops near structures on the Palmer Fire south of Yucaipa, California at 4:25 p.m. PDT September 2, 2017. Photo by Leroy Leggitt, used with permission.
CAL FIRE activated the 747 SuperTanker today, July 7, on a Call When Needed (CWN) contract after it was carded by the agency. The aircraft has been hung up in the annual recertification process this year due to a required software addition. The approval, or carding, is temporary, pending resolution of the data software issue which helps track systems on the air tanker. The issue is not related to the actual retardant delivery system.
In addition to the CWN contract with CAL FIRE, GlobalSupertanker also has contracts with the states of Colorado and Oregon.
As this is written at 6:50 p.m. PDT July 7, Tanker 944 had just received a launch order and is en route to the Klamathon Fire on the Oregon/California state line.
Above: the 747 SuperTanker takes off at McClellan at dawn on March 24, 2016 after attending the Aerial Firefighting Conference. Photo By Bill Gabbert.
Today officials in Colorado announced that the state has signed a contract with Global Supertanker for the use of the company’s 747 air tanker. The agreement is a Call When Needed arrangement, which means the aircraft will only be activated on an as-needed basis.
The 747 is in Sacramento this week going through the annual recertification and “carding” process with the U.S. Forest Service. When that is complete it would again be available on a CWN contract with the state of California. If they desired, the USFS could utilize it through interagency agreements with the state. The SuperTanker was used in 2017 by CAL FIRE on several fires.
The carding process is delayed this year because the SuperTanker needs a USFS required software addition. The SuperTanker team is working with Latitude Technologies(a USFS vendor) and the USFS to get the issue resolved as quickly as possible. In addition to the CWN contracts with California and now Colorado, GlobalSupertanker also has one with the county just south of Denver, Douglas County.
Firefighters in both California and Colorado have been very busy in recent weeks fighting huge fires. It is unknown if the 747 would be immediately activated when the software addition is complete.
Global SuperTanker’s B747-400, The Spirit of John Muir, incorporates a patented system capable of delivering single or multiple payload drops aggregating 19,200 gallons of water, fire retardant, or suppressant. With a flying speed of 600 mph, the air tanker can reach any part of the globe in 20 hours or less or nearly any part of the U.S. in less than three hours.
“Following a dispatch from the Plumas County Sheriff, the Plumas National Forest Hotshots and Plumas County Search & Rescue responded to a single engine plane incident in Indian Creek near Indian Falls, early this [Friday] morning [May 18]. Thankfully, the plane’s occupants suffered only minor injuries. The skilled firefighters, ensuring there was no wildland fire threat, provided initial patient care, directed the ambulance to the scene and then transferred care to the ambulance staff. The California Highway Patrol provided traffic control on CA Hwy 89. We’re grateful to have our first responders when we need them! A big thanks to all of you!”