Global SuperTanker Services is getting close to beginning commercial operations with its Boeing 747-400-based Global SuperTanker, the world’s largest aerial firefighting aircraft. The company anticipates receiving approval from the US Federal Aviation Administration of an amended Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) for the aircraft in early May.
Previously, a 747-100 Supertanker fire-fighting aircraft had been developed and operated by Evergreen, but following the latter’s bankruptcy in 2013, Global SuperTanker acquired the aircraft’s retardant system, related STC and patents. The pressurised tank system has been removed from the 747-100 and installed in 747-446 BCF (Boeing Converted Freighter) N744ST Tanker 944’, an aircraft that had originally been delivered to Japan Airlines in November 1991 and later sold on the Evergreen International.
The company notes that the Series 400 has significantly higher performance and lower operating costs than the earlier Series 100 on which the system was previously fitted. It will be the fastest, longest-range and most effective aerial firefighting platform in the world, says Global SuperTanker.
The aircraft will be based at Colorado Springs Airport, Colorado. It has a number of unique capabilities, including the ability to stand by on the ground fully loaded, deliver a variety of firefighting agents, respond rapidly over long distances, loiter over fire areas for extended periods, segment drops and land fully or partially loaded to avoid wasting firefighting agents.
Jim Wheeler, President and CEO of the company, says: “The current worsening trends in wildfires globally demand more capable response tools. The Boeing 747-400 represents a modern, strong, high performance platform capable of flying more than 4,000 nautical miles at a cruise speed of 565 miles per hour, at pressurized altitudes, fully loaded, then directly deploying nearly 20,000 gallons of a range of liquids including retardant, water, gel and foaming agents. We believe the Global SuperTanker will be a force multiplier’ for the men and women who are on the front line of controlling wildfires.” Alan Warnes