The reborn 747 Supertanker is scheduled to fly in to McClellan Air Field around mid-morning on Tuesday March 22. It will be one of the aircraft on static display at the Aerial Firefighting Conference in Sacramento March 22 and 23. Yes, we have been assured, it really does exist and recently received a new paint job at Marana, Arizona. The paint is so fresh that Bob Soelberg, Senior VP and Program Manager of Global Supertaker, said they postponed their flight by a day over concern that the rain on Monday might damage the new paint. The weather on Tuesday is predicted to be kinder to still-curing livery on the huge aircraft.
Global Supertanker purchased all the physical assets and intellectual property related to Evergreen’s original SuperTanker except the 747-100 airframe itself. The company refurbished the 19,600-gallon retardant delivery system and installed it in a 747-400 airframe to become the third generation of the 747 air tanker.
The SuperTanker was approved by the Interagency AirTanker Board years ago so it remains to be seen how much if any additional flight or ground testing may be required to regain the Board’s certification. It would have been interesting to see the aircraft perform a demonstration drop during the conference this week but Mr. Soelberg said they still have a few tweaks to make on the delivery system before it’s 100 percent ready to drop water or retardant.
CAL FIRE is considering putting a very large air tanker on a Call When Needed Contract. Before this development there was only one choice, the DC-10 operated by 10 Tanker Air Carrier. Representatives from CAL FIRE will be at the conference this week and I’m sure they will be looking at the new, or reborn, kid on the block.