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Thread: Western US and Canadian wildfires and the Global Supertanker

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    Western US and Canadian wildfires and the Global Supertanker

    Here's one topic that should be less partisan then others, the mystery of the Global Supertanker

    Here in the Western US and Canada wildfires are a massive problem every summer, and one of the ways wildfires are fought is by air. Most of our air attack tanker fleet are small aircraft or are very old, there was back to back fatal accidents of military surplus tankers in 2002.

    So about 15 years ago Delbert Smith who owned a cargo airline personally directed development of a new air attack tanker based on a Boeing 747 jumbo jet, well his airline went bankrupt, Del Smith died but not before the advanced spray system was developed and the FAA supplemental type permit (a legal license permitting modification of an existing aircraft design) was issued.

    The Supertanker was finished by another company, it can carry 19,000 gallons of water, the next biggest carries 8,500, in addition the spray system contains numerous sprayers and the ability to aim the spray of the water, whereas all other air tankers just drop water like a bucket. If firefighters get trapped it can with amazing precision cut an escape path, saving lives on the ground. Say it took off from Boeing/King County international airport in Seattle it can fly to anywhere in WA/OR/ID/BC in under an hour.

    It has been used to great effect fighting fires in Chile, Spain and Israel.

    But the US Forest Service has for over a decade refused to use the supertanker, the Canadians are the same story. They have never provided a reason, this season they finally said "ok we will contract the supertanker but it can't load more then 5000 gallons of water or retardant" well the supertanker is expensive to operate which is why it's 19,000 gallon capacity is the selling point, it carries so much and has such an advanced delivery system that the higher cost is justified by fewer flight hours and better use.

    So the supertanker remains sidelined while British Columbia and Washington are facing the worsening fire seasons

    like I said, US and Canadian authorities have refused to use the supertanker, and they have never provided a reason, initially the US Forest Service claimed the FAA had safety concerns (even though the FAA certified the tanker with an STP) then the forest service went mute. To this day they still won't use it, won't provide reasons
    Quote Originally Posted by Dr. Chuckles View Post
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    Re: Western US and Canadian wildfires and the Global Supertanker

    Quote Originally Posted by EMNofSeattle View Post
    Here's one topic that should be less partisan then others, the mystery of the Global Supertanker

    Here in the Western US and Canada wildfires are a massive problem every summer, and one of the ways wildfires are fought is by air. Most of our air attack tanker fleet are small aircraft or are very old, there was back to back fatal accidents of military surplus tankers in 2002.
    --------------------------
    snip
    Bigger is not always better and this is likely such a case given that a bigger plane would need to fly higher so not wasting cargo and getting cargo to the right spot would seem to be more difficult. That being said our air resources for forest fires have long been not even close to OK, both in age of the fleet and fleet numbers, because this is not something that government has been able to get done. Be aware as well that many experts say that we would be better off to let fires burn more often, in which case less resources are needed, so maybe everything is on hold till we can sort that out.
    I regret that, in our attempt to establish some standards, we didn't make them stick, we couldn't find a way to pass them on to another generation, really.<<<<<<<Walter Cronkite

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    Re: Western US and Canadian wildfires and the Global Supertanker

    Quote Originally Posted by Hawkeye10 View Post
    Bigger is not always better and this is likely such a case given that a bigger plane would need to fly higher so not wasting cargo and getting cargo to the right spot would seem to be more difficult. That being said our air resources for forest fires have long been not even close to OK, both in age of the fleet and fleet numbers, because this is not something that government has been able to get done. Be aware as well that many experts say that we would be better off to let fires burn more often, in which case less resources are needed, so maybe everything is on hold till we can sort that out.

    This system is perfectly capable, it can easily do low level fire attacks same as the C-130 and D.C.-10 based tankers.

    It's actually cheaper when you consider it the massive amounts it can drop on a single attack run and that its sprayer allows precise deployment of water.

    Also the other air tankers dump water like a giant bucket, this wall of water can crush humans and vehicles, the supertanker sprays water causing less damage to things on the ground, it can also create escape trails over 5 kilometers long and 100 meters across so that surrounded firemen can escape, in Chile the supertanker saved a five man team this way
    Quote Originally Posted by Dr. Chuckles View Post
    No one cares about your stupid hippy logic
    "Be careful of averages, the average person has one breast and one testicle"
    -Dixy Lee Ray

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    Re: Western US and Canadian wildfires and the Global Supertanker

    Quote Originally Posted by EMNofSeattle View Post
    This system is perfectly capable, it can easily do low level fire attacks same as the C-130 and D.C.-10 based tankers.

    It's actually cheaper when you consider it the massive amounts it can drop on a single attack run and that its sprayer allows precise deployment of water.

    Also the other air tankers dump water like a giant bucket, this wall of water can crush humans and vehicles, the supertanker sprays water causing less damage to things on the ground, it can also create escape trails over 5 kilometers long and 100 meters across so that surrounded firemen can escape, in Chile the supertanker saved a five man team this way
    My information is that it operates at 300 feet, while most tankers can work at 200 feet. Also keep in mind that forest fires dont tend to happen on the prairie, and that smaller planes can snake through canyons that big planes can not.
    https://www.wired.com/2009/09/evergreen-supertanker/

    Here is some counter argument:
    Overlooked are the enormous costs associated with aerial fire fighting, including the risks of crashing aircraft that must be flown under extremely hazardous conditions. Last year a single fire in the USA racked up a bill of over $250 million, with fire fighting now consuming over half of the USFS entire annul budget. Indeed, the reliance on aerial fire fighting in the US may cause the Forest Service to crumple under the fiscal strain. Collectively fire fighting is costing the American taxpayer billions of dollars every fire season.

    Governments and taxpayers must be careful what they wish for. Aerial fire fighting is a critical but expensive tool for managing wildfire. Because wildfires will become more frequent and severe due to climate change there is no question we need aerial fire fighting technology particularly helicopters and specially trained crews that can be inserted into remote areas. But uncritical belief and investment in aerial fire fighting technologies alone is a road to fiscal ruin. Thoughtlessly investing in aerial fire-fighting will not meet the formidable fire management challenges that are being amplified by climate change
    Even Boeing-747 tanker jets can't win our total war on fires | Climate Home - climate change news
    Last edited by Hawkeye10; 08-22-17 at 11:30 PM.
    I regret that, in our attempt to establish some standards, we didn't make them stick, we couldn't find a way to pass them on to another generation, really.<<<<<<<Walter Cronkite

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    Re: Western US and Canadian wildfires and the Global Supertanker

    Quote Originally Posted by Hawkeye10 View Post
    My information is that it operates at 300 feet, while most tankers can work at 200 feet. Also keep in mind that forest fires dont tend to happen on the prairie, and that smaller planes can snake through canyons that big planes can not.
    https://www.wired.com/2009/09/evergreen-supertanker/

    Here is some counter argument:

    Even Boeing-747 tanker jets can't win our total war on fires | Climate Home - climate change news
    Your source doesn't actually make a case against the Supertanker, it makes a case for better wilderness management, these are separate things, fires are burning today, management will take years to pay off, we should do it, but that's not a reason to refuse to use effective tools right now.
    Quote Originally Posted by Dr. Chuckles View Post
    No one cares about your stupid hippy logic
    "Be careful of averages, the average person has one breast and one testicle"
    -Dixy Lee Ray

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