Boeing 747 Aerial Firefighting Platform Reborn

A Boeing 747-400 will be converted into an aerial firefighting platform offering long reach and quick reaction. Global SuperTanker Services (a subsidiary of Cyterna Air) is assembling a new team from the former Evergreen Supertanker project to install a pressurised tank system previously proven in a 747-100 into a new, better performing B747-400BCF (Boeing Converted Freighter).

Jim Wheeler, President and CEO of Global SuperTanker Services explained the decision: “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 4000 nautical miles at a cruise speed of 565 miles per hour, at pressurised 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.”

Using such a large aircraft has several benefits. In addition to its voluminous capacity and ability to range over wide areas or even be deployable internationally, it can also loiter while airborne for long periods.

According to Global Supertanker Services the aircraft will be able to operate “from most designated VLAT bases” in order to remain close to fire locations once it has been called in to assist.

Cyterna Air is a portfolio company of private equity firm Alterna Capital Partners. Alterna Capital’s managing director Harry Toll said that the SuperTanker would add “a new dimension” in protection and firefighting capability. “In the US and many countries around the world there is an effort to deploy a new generation’ of aerial tankers. We are working to deliver this and other aircraft to meet that need,” he said.

By Andrew Drwiega