Skip to comments.U.S. Won't Use Air Tankers for Wildfires
Posted on 05/10/2004 11:14:43 PM PDT by Stoat
click here to read article
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
1 Broadway Plaza
Building A, Suite 210
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
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.
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:
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As the nation's aging and outdated fleet of air tankers faces retirement, a private company is ready to offer a new breed of air tanker technology for wildland firefighting in the U.S. - the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 todays 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
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.
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
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!
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 dont hold current U.S. airworthiness certificates,
- NIFC http://www.nifc.gov/
To which DenverChannel responds:
I thought that the Denver Channel link that you posted was very important and newsworthy, and so I started a thread with it here: