747 Supertanker

YouTube – 747 Supertanker

Primary Function:
Weight Empty:
Max. Weight:
Tank Capacity:
Cruise Speed:
Drop Speed:
Drop Altitude:
Climb Rate:
First Flight:
air tanker
4- 50,100 lbs. ea.
231 ft. 10 in.
211 ft. 5 in.
404,600 lbs.
875,000 lbs.
19,600 gals.
550 mph
160 mph
400 – 800 feet
2,500 fpm
38,000 feet
4,800 miles

We are told that one 747 Supertanker equals seven conventional air tankers. The 747 Supertanker’s range allows it to make a number of drops as necessary during a single air mission.

The 747 Supertanker has the capability of high pressure retardant drops for immediate suppression, or to drop retardant like a falling rain to stop the spread of a blaze.

Modern systems like Ground Position System instrumentation and high resolution radar can enable the 747 Supertanker to be used in night operations.

With a cruise speed of 550 mph the 747 Supertanker can engage problem areas much more quickly than would be possible with conventional air tankers.

Evergreen Internation Aviation developed what it considered the next generation of air tanker in the 747 Supertanker. The capacity to drop the equivalent of the capacities of seven conventional air tankers together with the latest in innovations for safety, make the 747 Supertanker truly unique.

The 747 Supertanker program involved fifty professional scientists and engineers. Over 20,000 man hours were put into making the aircraft the most safe and efficient air tanker ever produced. The dynamic mission response capability of the aircraft enables it to respond to urgent duties not only in the United States, but around the world.

The latest 747 Supertanker received its FAA certification in September 2016.

The 747 Supertanker concept is the overall reduction in costs due to the capability of massive intervention with the least amount of flight hours. This is accomplished through:

At least seven times foam and water capacity of typical air tankers.

The ability to cruise further and stay on mission longer than conventional aircraft.

The ability of use multiple drop patterns during a single mission against a number of targets.

Forward Looking Infrared and GPS features.

Continuous alert status without stand-down during the busiest seasons.

Mach .86 cruise to get to the mission area more quickly.

A power-to-weight ratio, when fully loaded, exceeding that of other air tankers, adding to safety and performance.

A unique pressurized drop system enables the 747 Supertanker to deliver water and foam from higher altitudes while maintaining coverage and efficiency, yet another safety feature.

The 747 Supertanker was employed to fight the June 2011 Arizona blaze.

In July of 2013 the U.S. Forest Service issued a CNW (Call When Needed) contract for the 747 Supertanker.  However it was not needed during 2013.

In November of 2016 the 747 Supertanker brought blazes near Haifa, Israel under control.

In January of 2017 the 747 Supertanker was employed to fight numerous blazes near Santiago, Chile.

Evergreen declared bankruptcy on Dec. 31, 2013. Their successor, Global Super Tanker Services, is currently operating a single 747 Supertanker. It is a model 747-400. Of the two conversions made by Evergreen, a 747-100 and 747-200, only the latter went into service.  Both have since been retired.

In August and September of 2017 the 747 Supertanker was contracted for use by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection  against the Ponderosa blaze at a cost of US$16,000.00 per hour.  Cal Fire also said that the aircraft was “helping with other fires across the state.”

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