McMinnville, Ore. - Evergreen International Aviation's B747 Supertanker won certification for operation this season after receiving its interim approval letter from the Interagency Air Tanker Board. The aircraft also received its Supplemental Type Certificate from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in November 2008. It is now available to assist world firefighting agencies during the 2009 season and beyond. The award is unique because the Supertanker has an 8:1 drop ratio compared to that of all other current firefighting aircraft, meaning the Supertanker will forever change the way wildland fires are fought. The plane is the first of a fleet designed to accommodate the needs of U.S. and International private and public agencies.
The Supertanker showed impressive results during the U.S. Forest Service administered grid tests. From high, medium and low coverage levels, the Supertanker showed it provides quality, consistent retardant line construction. The cutting-edge aircraft proved it belongs on the front line, from the onset, to fight wildfire day and night. The uniformed pattern of the Supertanker drops, and its ability, in a single flight, for split loads at multiple coverage levels, gives agencies an incredibly versatile firefighting tool.
The multi-role B747 Supertanker is the largest tanker aircraft available today. With a payload of more than 20,000 gallons and a response time of 600 mph, it has more than eight times the drop capability and twice the speed of any other federal air tanker currently fighting fires. The Supertanker's patented pressurized system has the capability to disperse product at high pressure for an overwhelming response, or disperse at the speed of falling rain in a single or several segmented drops. This pressurized system will also allow for drops at higher altitudes, creating a significant safety buffer and enabling the Supertanker to fight fires during the day and at night, when they are most vulnerable. It also offers a significant value for American taxpayers; saving homes, natural resources, and most importantly, lives. When employed properly, the Supertanker has the capability to save the U.S. government billions of dollars in fire suppression, natural resource losses, tourism, and rehabilitation costs every year.
Evergreen International Aviation, which has more than 70 years of firefighting experience and more than one million hours of large aircraft operating experience, has invested five years and $50 million of its own funding to develop this next generation of firefighting aircraft.
The Supertanker program will continue to grow and advance its capabilities. On the firefighting front, operations of the Supertanker will expand to Western Europe, Australia and Brazil. The aircraft will be available to provide service to international governments, as well as private industry. The next endeavor is to prove the vehicle as a solution for oil spills, decontamination of biological/chemical poisoning and radiation knock down. With this diverse range of qualifications, the Supertanker will go on protecting valuable resources for generations to come.