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U.S. Won't Use Air Tankers for Wildfires
The Guardian (U.K.) ^ | May 10, 2004 | IRA DREYFUSS

Posted on 05/10/2004 11:14:43 PM PDT by Stoat

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To: Carry_Okie
It is not the firefighters who sue every time some agency suggests that 500 trees to the acre is too many for forest health and safety, but more often than not, it is the forest dwellers themselves, worried that their beautiful, thick forest will be overtrimmed by those "evil" loggers. It is not the Hotshots or the seasonal handcrews that cry about the "endangered" rat species or the "rare" ragweeds that might be disturbed by "excessivley wide and ugly" fire breaks carved into the wildlands and forests near homes and communities. Whatever you may think you know about the political forces at work in the USFS beauracracy, don't blame the people who are sent to stop "the beast" when it ignites!
51 posted on 05/12/2004 12:36:47 AM PDT by cartoonistx
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To: cartoonistx
It is not the firefighters who sue every time some agency suggests that 500 trees to the acre is too many for forest health and safety, but more often than not, it is the forest dwellers themselves, worried that their beautiful, thick forest will be overtrimmed by those "evil" loggers.

It's not the residents who provide them an ideology, organize them, pay their lawyers, advertise, or fill the hours of Animal Planet, it's powerful NGOs that are fed big bucks from tax-exempt "charitable" foundations, the owners of which often have a profit interest in competing investments, either substitute goods or sources abroad.

Whatever you may think you know about the political forces at work in the USFS beauracracy, don't blame the people who are sent to stop "the beast" when it ignites!

Inasmuch as I have met more than one crew who worked hard and took appropriate risks, all I can say is, read the account of the Winter Fire. The USFS fire crews and contractors are not what they once were. Too many are bureaucratic, unionized, and looking for overtime.

52 posted on 05/12/2004 6:01:00 AM PDT by Carry_Okie (The environment is too complex and too important to be managed by central planning.)
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To: snopercod
You, too.
53 posted on 05/12/2004 6:04:03 AM PDT by First_Salute (May God save our democratic-republican government, from a government by judiciary.)
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To: EGPWS; Poohbah; veronica; Howlin
Agreed. Problem is, getting new planes costs money.

And Congress seems to think there are more important things to spend money on.

Penny-wise, and pound foolish.
54 posted on 05/12/2004 11:02:01 AM PDT by hchutch ("Go ahead. Leave early and beat the traffic. The Milwaukee Brewers dare you." - MLB.com 5/11/04)
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To: hchutch
Suggested reading: John J. Nance's Fire Wind. Fiction, but based on fact.

BTW, the C-130A they mentioned lost its wings in straight and level flight.

55 posted on 05/12/2004 11:19:36 AM PDT by Poohbah ("Would you mind not shooting at the thermonuclear weapons?" -- Maj. Vic Deakins, USAF)
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To: Carry_Okie
This is not a good developement. Many roads in our area were not repaired after the New Years day flood of 1997, so many have been decommisioned via lack of maintenance. Recent snowpack measurements show our area has 60-70% of average, not a drought, but combined with the early spring that we have had, could prove to be a bad combination.

Other areas of the west are in far worse shape...

56 posted on 05/12/2004 8:19:56 PM PDT by forester ( An economy that is overburdened by government eventually results in collapse)
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To: forester
Other areas of the west are in far worse shape...

Utah, Northern Arizona, Southern Colorado, and New Mexico are all in drought stressed condition, never mind the overstocking. Yep, it sucks all righty. The Forest Service doesn't seem to care either.

57 posted on 05/12/2004 8:56:22 PM PDT by Carry_Okie (The environment is too complex and too important to be managed by central planning.)
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To: All
All we need are some of these Russian beauties.


58 posted on 05/12/2004 9:00:55 PM PDT by COEXERJ145
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To: Carry_Okie
Check the moniker on the russian plane in post#58 "Global Emergency Response" What do you make of that?
59 posted on 05/12/2004 9:48:52 PM PDT by forester ( An economy that is overburdened by government eventually results in collapse)
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To: All
Thank you all so very much for your great posts! I've read them all and really appreciate the thought and oftentimes the tremendous expertise that is evident in the posts. I found a related article today that readers on this thread might enjoy, so I'll just post it here rather than start a new thread with it. If anyone thinks that it's REALLY newsworthy you're welcome to post it as a new thread yourself if you like. If you do, you might want to provide a link over to this thread so that new readers can see the great links, photos and posts that everyone here has contributed. Here's the article: Loss of air tankers may affect wildfires - Experts applaud putting safety first Loss of air tankers may affect wildfires - Experts applaud puttingsafety first Copyright 2004 The Post Register Idaho Falls Post Register (Idaho Falls, Idaho) May 12, 2004 Wednesday Idaho fire experts believe the decision to terminate contracts for 33 large air tankers will have a definite impact on national fire operations, but most applaud the federal agencies' decision to put safety first. The decision announced Monday is in response to a National Traffic Safety Board report on three air tanker accidents that occurred between 1994 and 2002. The report determined the federal government's maintenance and inspection procedures for firefighting air tankers were inadequate. The loss of large air tanker support could result in more wildfires escaping initial attack and becoming "large, problem fires," former Bureau of Land Manager aviation manager Hugh Carson said. "Air tankers are a very important tool in the tool box. It's not just another tool we can easily do without," he said. "No amount of single engine air tankers or helicopters can replace the key role that air tankers play." The National Interagency Fire Center in Boise will still be able to call on eight military C-130 tankers that have been modified to provide fire support. Two of the firefighting C-130s are available at bases in North Carolina, California, Wyoming and Colorado, Lt. Col. Ellen Krenke of the National Guard Bureau said. The eight aircraft are not dedicated exclusively to fires, and because of the massive deployments to Iraq the military has had to prioritize aircraft use. But, the aircraft should be able to respond when requested, Krenke said. In the past, military aircraft have only been requested when the center is at its highest level of fire danger. Carson said it will be tough to face an extreme fire year without tanker support but that the Forest Service did the right thing. Forest Service and Department of Interior officials say they are trying to develop a strategy to purchase newer aircraft, something Carson said is long overdue. "Clearly the days of operating older aircraft of unknown airworthiness for firefighting operations are over," Forest Service Chief Dale Bosworth said in a statement. Gina Knudson, who covers Lemhi and Custer counties for the Post Register, can be reached through Assistant Managing Editor Margaret Wimborne at 542-6757.
60 posted on 05/12/2004 11:30:28 PM PDT by Stoat
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To: forester
Hi Forester, Global Emergency Response is an agency that I mentioned in post #1. You can see their website here: Global Emergency Response
61 posted on 05/12/2004 11:34:38 PM PDT by Stoat
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To: forester
I saw that. It rolled around in my head for a while, varying from, "chilling," to, "I wonder if the planes are that well made," to, "Jets? Don't they go a little fast for that job?"

Dunno. It's noteworthy.
62 posted on 05/13/2004 6:00:25 AM PDT by Carry_Okie (The environment is too complex and too important to be managed by central planning.)
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To: Stoat; Carry_Okie
Hi Stoat. The Global Emergency Response link is not working. I went back and reread post #1,,the worldnet link works...I'm having problems with the USFS dismissing this out of hand...if it comes down like rain, then what is the problem? I could understand if it came down like a firehouse and broke the tops out of trees. I gotta go look for endangered plants today, I'll check in tonite, let me know if the link is fixed.
63 posted on 05/13/2004 7:09:13 AM PDT by forester ( An economy that is overburdened by government eventually results in collapse)
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To: forester
The Global Emergency Response link is not working.

Here ya go.

64 posted on 05/13/2004 7:32:46 AM PDT by Carry_Okie (The environment is too complex and too important to be managed by central planning.)
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To: forester
I'm sorry :-( I'm not sure what I did wrong...let me try again link If it still doesn't work, try typing www.waterbomber.com into your address bar. I apologize for the error...I'm new here :-( The only "problem" that I'm aware of with the Ilyushin planes is that the USFS refuses to even test them; apparenly for political reasons, as other posters have gone into some detail over. When you explore the Global Emergency Response website, you'll find photos and diagrams showing how they have quite a bit of control over the water drop....they can "deluge" a smaller area or spread it out over a larger area. I haven't heard of the Ilyushin planes causing any problems with damaging trees due to excessive water volume.
65 posted on 05/13/2004 10:15:55 AM PDT by Stoat
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To: Carry_Okie
Hi Carrie, Re the speed of the Ilyushin IL-76, they have a specially- designed thrust reducers to reduce the speed. This as well as other interesting technical aspects of the planes are discussed here: link In case I've made another mistake in posting the link, you can see the page by clicking on the "Other Uses" link once you're within the Global Emergency Response site. Here is the paragraph that specifically discusses the speed issue: "Leading edge wing designs and special flaps together with high-lift devices and thrust reversers on each of the four very powerful engines allow for low, slow flight, and safe landings on remote, rough and generally shorter runways. These are ideal features for remote drop missions of any kind including, for example, dropping relief supplies bundles, pre-fab hospitals, oil spill containment equipment, and the like."
66 posted on 05/13/2004 10:31:48 AM PDT by Stoat
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To: Stoat
OTOH, one would think that jets are more susceptible to sucking up debris than a prop plane. Interesting.
67 posted on 05/13/2004 11:10:12 AM PDT by Carry_Okie (There are people in power who are truly evil.)
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To: Stoat
Thanks so much, stoat, for bringing this important issue
to FreeRepublic again.

Our information at Global Emergency Response is that
the IL-76 waterbomber issue should get to television
in the next couple of days and from there, who knows?

I caught the tail end of a DC committee meeting session
online today where the FS was being contratulated for
getting to 98% of the fires on time. The stats will show
that some small proportion of wildfires, say 5%, causes
95% of the damages.

Here's the latest, "Arson by Omission", a Ventura County
Reporter article from two reprint sources: http://www.fire.uni-freiburg.de/media/2004/news_20031218_usa.htm -
Global Fire Monitoring Center in Gemany, and http://www.desastres.org/ger/vcreportercom.htm

We're not counting Reps Rohrabacher's and Weldon's efforts out.

The IL-76 is by far and away the most powerful firefighting
appliance in the world and the worst-kept secret in
firefighting. To keep it from Americans is in breach of a
civil defence duty. Im' in Canada. Canada said it would
follow the US Forest Service lead on this airplane. By
following the US lead, Canada defaults to the failure
position and we have damages to show for it. While these
damages may not approach Socal's 23 lives and 3,495 homes
from October and November, 2003, they are still serious
enough to have begun reconsidering their options.

When bureaucrats dig in for a fight, they, unlike business,
have a guaranteed salary and pension/benefits scheme to
rely on. Businessmen such as those promoting the
Il-76 do not. The Forest Service knows this. Ag Secretaries
come and Ag Secretaries go but the bureaucrats survive.
68 posted on 05/13/2004 11:13:51 AM PDT by JohnA
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To: JohnA; Stoat; Carry_Okie
Ag Secretaries come and Ag Secretaries go but the bureaucrats survive.

Thanks for fixing the link guys. I find this whole situation deplorable. The USFS bureacrats have grounded the main tool that is used for fighting the large fires....what will it take to get congressional review of this agency? Another 1910 inferno where 3 million acres goes up in two days?

As a former USFS firefighter, I know what kind of people currently run this outfit. For them to take this action without a backup plan is incompetant at the least, and potentially criminal in the end.

69 posted on 05/14/2004 8:26:45 AM PDT by forester ( An economy that is overburdened by government eventually results in collapse)
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To: forester; Stoat

Be sure to contact your friends in the DenverChannel7
broadcast area alerting them to tonight's IL-76 waterbomber
television premiere from 17-time Emmy Award winner
and investigative reporter, Tony Kovaleski.

From DenverChannel website:

Friday at 10:15 p.m.: For years, the Forest Service
has ignored a new, possibly far more effective method
in fighting wildfires. Why are the more powerful air tankers
not being used?
http://www.thedenverchannel.com/denvers7/214197/detail.html

Any and all feedback would be greatly appreciated.

Cheers;
JohnA



70 posted on 05/14/2004 9:09:55 AM PDT by JohnA
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To: Conservative4Ever

Essentially all the piñons in Northern New Mexico are now dead standing firewood. I'm not sure the dead trees are a greater hazard than the living in that they contain less oil. The dreaded Bark Beetle wiped out hundreds of square miles of trees this last two years.

I had to remove 13 from around the house. The County and FEMA suggested that I do so (but they paid for the removal.)


71 posted on 05/14/2004 9:16:54 AM PDT by Doctor Stochastic (Vegetabilisch = chaotisch is der Charakter der Modernen. - Friedrich Schlegel)
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To: forester

Without tankers we could lose whole towns, as you know well.


72 posted on 05/14/2004 10:20:06 AM PDT by Carry_Okie (There are people in power who are truly evil.)
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To: Doctor Stochastic
Did not realize the dead tree problem was in NM too. Yikes. I thought the drought was predominately a CA problem. Apparently not. Good luck. You were wise to remove the deadwood and nice of the agencies to help out.

Red

73 posted on 05/14/2004 8:52:48 PM PDT by Conservative4Ever (EVIL.......thy name is Hillary)
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To: Stoat

5. Willful endangerment of life of humans for any and all members of ANY enviro group, targeting the leaders first, and working your way down.


74 posted on 05/14/2004 8:56:30 PM PDT by ridesthemiles (ridesthemiles)
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To: JohnA

Hello JohnA,

Thanks very much for your great posts, and even more so for the great work that you and your company do. I wish that the USFS would develop an interest in achieving even a passing glance in the direction of sanity and coherence in terms of their wildfire fighting approach, but that appears to be far too much to ask. I suspect it will take another bad fire season with thousands of homes lost and hundreds dead before the public will really put some serious pressure on the USFS for real change.

I'm glad to hear that Rep. Rohrahacher and Rep. Weldon are still fighting the good fight. My apologies if I spoke presumptuously....it was a reflection of my overall disheartened attitude over this whole situation and of the sense of foreboding I feel regarding the upcoming fire season this year. I hope that they will be able to help set things right.

Re the TV broadcast, I'm wondering if there's any way that you can host a video clip of that TV event at your site, perhaps as an MPEG or AVI file that people can download? I don't live anywhere near Colorado and it looks like the only option that the TV station provides is for people to purchase a thirty dollar videotape from them.
I'm sure that you would have many people eager to see that footage all over the world, especially in light of the recent retirement of the bulk of the USFS firefighting fleet.

Thanks again for contributing your posts and I hope that you will continue to keep us updated :-)


75 posted on 05/14/2004 11:48:38 PM PDT by Stoat
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To: Stoat

Believe me, if we had this clip, we would post it
to the website. We don't expect to have it (format
unknown) until Monday. I expect we will be seeing
more from ABC on this matter. ABC left no trace of
the story behind at DenverChannel; not even a writeup.

Bear in mind that the Russians were in Colorado recently
on one of 100 NATO-Russia exercises scheduled for
this year, 20 of these exercises in Russia alone, and
that this coming week, US military forces will be
training with the Russians in Moscow.

Note from our rebuttal that we recommend hosting
the waterbomber at a US military base for a variety
of reasons, not the least of which is that it is
a good fit with MAFFS.

You don't have to imagine a MAFFS/C-130 fit with
EMERCOM/Ilyushin. I have a picture of what that
may look like right here: http://www.desastres.org/ger/global/photomedia/17.jpg

Perhaps somebody with computer skills can post this
as a picture here and not as a URL.


76 posted on 05/15/2004 5:57:05 AM PDT by JohnA
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To: All

I hope that readers might consider alerting any of their friends who are involved with or even merely interested in any aspect of wildland firefighting to drop by this thread, as we have a truly unique opportunity here. JohnA is a Partner with Global Emergency Response, which is also contractually linked with Air Routing International, now a partnership out of Houston, and Total Corporate Aviation Services Ltd, a private federal corporation, of
Canada, HQ in Calgary.
JohnA is in a position to provide a definitive answer for you on probably any question pertaining to wildland firefighting, air tankers and waterbombers, and relevant Forest Service and Government policy. It's not often that a person in JohnA's position is available in a public forum such as this, and I hope that readers will take full advantage of his expertise to help you in understanding what's going on with wildland firefighting and what you as an interested citizen might do to help improve things.


77 posted on 05/15/2004 12:57:51 PM PDT by Stoat
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To: Stoat

Hi Stoat;

Thanks for that warm intro.

My request to the group assembled is first
to take a moment and ask DenverChannel whether
it is ABC's intention to bring this urgent matter
to the attention of a national audience. For me/us
to do so is too presumptuous by half. We have
a financial interest. Clearly, it is a public
interest issue.

Here's the interactive for DenverChannel:

http://www.thedenverchannel.com/denvers7/222549/detail.html

Tony Kovaleski is the 17-time Emmy Award
winner who first took the IL-76 to American TV
screens.

He did so last night on the 10:15 PM. This is,
or should be, a national issue; not just a Colorado
issue.

Il-76s are presently working in the Urals as there
is a killer wildfire emergency there which has already
taken 6 lives and burned out hundreds of homes.


78 posted on 05/15/2004 1:23:31 PM PDT by JohnA
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To: All

79 posted on 05/15/2004 6:38:52 PM PDT by Stoat
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To: Stoat

First appearance of the IL-76 waterbomber
and the 747 supertanker in the same article...
from Firehouse.com:
http://cms.firehouse.com/content/ar.onId=4&id=30430

No representative of Global Emergency Response
was sought out for comment.

The Il-76 is proven while the 747 remains to be
proven.


80 posted on 05/17/2004 11:56:32 AM PDT by JohnA
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To: JohnA

Hello JohnA,
I just phoned The Denver Channel re their broadcast on the Ilyushin IL-76 on May 14, and apparently the only way that footage is available is if a person were to buy the tape of the entire newscast, which costs US$57.00

Readers interested in ordering the tape need to specify the date and time of the broadcast and send their payment to

VMS
1 Broadway Plaza
Building A, Suite 210
Denver, CO
80203

(303) 861-7163

When I asked the switchboard operator if there were any plans to rebroadcast the program she said "probably not, because it was last week".
When I asked her about obtaining copyright permissions to rebroadcast the program or segments thereof on another medium or hosting it for internet download, she offered to transfer me to Mr. Kovaleski himself, who apparently is in a position to negotiate such matters.
I didn't take her up on speaking with Mr. Kovaleski because I'm not a principal in this matter and am not in a position to cut a deal, but I got the impression that he was indeed accessible for communication directly through the main switchboard of The Denver Channel at

(303) 832-7777

Sorry that I haven't been more help, but perhaps considering that the footage is not likely to be rebroadcast, Mr. Kovaleski might be willing to authorize it's use elsewhere? Given my position as merely an enthusiastic supporter of the IL-76 for use in wildland firefighting, I don't think that I can go much further with this but perhaps you can.


81 posted on 05/17/2004 2:42:54 PM PDT by Stoat
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To: JohnA

Re your link to the Firehouse Magazine article, the link you posted points to a Members area, and person can't go further without subscribing.
I found what appears to be the same article posted in their free area, and the URL is:

http://cms.firehouse.com/content/article/article.jsp?sectionId=4&id=30430

It's titled "747s May Be Next Wildland Firefighting Tools" and here is the complete text of the article:

As the nation's aging and outdated fleet of air tankers faces retirement, a private company is ready to offer a new breed of air tanker technology for wildland firefighting in the U.S. - the Supertanker.

Evergreen International Aviation has built a revolutionary new air tanker from a Boeing 747, creating an aircraft with seven times the drop capability of today’s largest U.S. air tanker and the ability to loiter, or orbit around a fire, for up to six hours, compared to one hour for a traditional air tanker.

"With guidance from appropriate agencies," the company claims, "Evergreen will assist state, federal and worldwide experts redefine how fires are fought and emergency management missions are performed."

Similar technology has been used for wildfire fighting around the world since 1994. Russian "Waterbombers" capable of releasing more than 10,000 gallons in a single drop are available for contract through Global Emergency Response, a government and industry consortium of U.S., Canadian and Russian agencies. The Forest Service's decision not to utilize the Ilyushin-76 despite success in other countries has drawn some controversy.

Forest Service officials could not immediately be reached for comment on whether they will consider the giant U.S. or Russian air tankers in light of devastating recent wildfire seasons and the grounding of the old air tanker fleet. Forest Service and Department of Interior officials have publicly stated that they are trying to develop a strategy to purchase newer aircraft.

"Clearly the days of operating older aircraft of unknown airworthiness for firefighting operations are over," Forest Service Chief Dale Bosworth said in a press statement.

Evergreen spokesman Justin Marchand said his company's first Supertanker was flight tested April 24 and they expect it to receive Federal Aviation Administration certification around July 4. Their goal is to have the aircraft fighting wildfire this season and to eventually build a small fleet.

The Evergreen Supertanker can carry up to 24,000 gallons in one load and has the capability of performing segmented drops. It has a fill time of 26 to 30 minutes, compared to up to 25 minutes for a traditional air tanker.

Marchand said Evergreen has been discussing the technology with fire officials but said it is too early to speculate on future contracts or the cost of contracting the aircraft. He made it clear that the program is private and self-funded, not a government project.

They began designing the Supertanker in 2002 after a conversation between Evergreen chairman Del Smith and pilot Cliff Hale, who fought the fires at Los Alamos in 2002. "They discussed the fact that the fire service needs something above and beyond what's out there today to combat these megafires," Marchand said. "Their goal was to give firefighters a better tool."

Marchand said no one else in the industry has created a supertanker from a 747, but he has heard of other U.S. ventures looking at large airframes. According to Evergreen's web site, Boeing has worked with Evergreen to support the engineering studies and certification process.

Marchand said the Supertanker also has many additional benefits, besides its load capacity. Instead of just using gravity to drop liquid, it uses a pressurized system, which allows the aircraft to fight fire from an altitude of 400 to 800 feet, rather than the more dangerous 200 feet for a regular tanker.

According to the company's web site, an aircraft this size will also provide a suitable platform for advanced GPS navigation and forward looking infrared capabilities, which could enhance navigation and possibly lead to night operations.

And even with 24,000 gallons of retardant, the aircraft is still 150,000 pounds below its maximum takeoff weight capacity, the company says, providing an enhanced safety margin. They say current air tankers take off at maximum certified take off weight, leaving no margin for error.

"We just think it has great potential," Marchand said


82 posted on 05/17/2004 2:58:15 PM PDT by Stoat
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To: Doctor Stochastic

We were up in eastern BC last year and were literally shocked to see miles after miles of dead fir and pine. All dead from beatles and drought. That's going to be one hugh fire.


83 posted on 05/17/2004 3:30:15 PM PDT by OregonRancher
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To: Stoat

Thanks so much for ferreting out DenverChannel's
commercial data. We'll get a tape in consideration
for our efforts making our data available together
with our spokesperson and a US expert in Russian
aviation.

I would not jump to conclusions about further use
of the material by ABC - or not. An issue
like wildfire suppression does not simply go away,
especially considering that despite the comforting
words of the US Forest Service surrounding the
standing down of 33 air tankers, predictions are
for a worse than normal fire season in many areas.

What they have remaining is half a loaf.

We are generally pleased that Firehouse.com wrote
as they did. We know the true comparison between
these big aircraft in a firefighting role and remain
supremely confident of our competitive position,
especially as regards economy of operation but also
as to handling capabilites, versatility, and overall effectiveness.

The true economics of aerial firefighting is tied up
in a computation of $/pound liquids delivered to a fire.

Cheers, Stoat, and thanks again!


84 posted on 05/17/2004 3:31:55 PM PDT by JohnA
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To: Stoat

It would appear, however, that the decision for
the IL-76 this year, at least, is final:

“In keeping with the need to ensure airworthiness of
aircraft, the federal agencies will not be considering
aircraft such as the BE-200, the IL-76 or the A-10 since
they don’t hold current U.S. airworthiness certificates,”

- http://wildfiremag.com/ar/firefighting_feds_ground_large/

- NIFC http://www.nifc.gov/







85 posted on 05/18/2004 5:48:49 AM PDT by JohnA
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To: Stoat

To which DenverChannel responds:
http://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/3319268/detail.html


86 posted on 05/18/2004 2:04:24 PM PDT by JohnA
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To: JohnA

Hello JohnA,
I thought that the Denver Channel link that you posted was very important and newsworthy, and so I started a thread with it here:

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1138254/posts


87 posted on 05/18/2004 9:50:49 PM PDT by Stoat
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