Evergreen International Aviation is proud to announce the Supertanker has successfully completed its first round of test flights in Marana, Arizona. Evergreen has modified a Boeing 747-200F to carry some 20,000 gallons of water or retardant. A special dispensing system has been installed to optimize the release of the agent. The system, a computerized constant flow delivery system capable of segmented (partial) applications, has undergone extensive test using a 10,000 gallon (91,000 l) proof of concept (POC) test system and aircraft. As of the end of April 2004, this POC aircraft had made 82 test runs and drops, dispensing some 536,460 gallons (245,000 l) of water and retardant using the prototype system. During the firefighting development and test flight program, the Supertanker flew a total of over 42 hours.
During this flight test program, aircraft performed beyond everybodys expectations throughout flat and steep terrain in the low-level environment. The stability of the Supertanker during the actual drop was excellent. The crew classified the drops as a non-event with no pitch changes. The Supertankers altitude during the drops ranged from 400 to 800, achieving up to 14 gallons per 100 sq. feet with water, foam, retardant and gel. Each drop was made at 140 knots, which allows for a 30% cushion on stall speed. The aircraft did not have any adverse effects on the ground environment or personnel underneath the drops. Wind generation was minimal, with typical spikes like those associated with other heavy airtankers.
The Supertanker is currently at the Evergreen Air Center in Marana, Arizona undergoing routine maintenance to assure it is the most analyzed and inspected firefighting aircraft ever. The aircraft will be available this fire season.
EA is working hard to make this aircraft the safest airborne firefighter ever. At no time will the aircraft operate outside of its design parameters and will operate well below its max gross takeoff weight. The aircraft will be maintained in accordance with the standards of FAR part 121. With over 425,000 hours of 747 experience, 43 years of firefighting experience and 48,000 accident-free hours just last year, Evergreen working to assure that the Supertanker will be the most safe and effective airtanker ever to fly fires.
While the standard operating procedures of the Supertanker will be similar to the existing heavy airtanker fleet, the Supertanker does distinguish itself from the other heavy air tankers in the following ways:
· Continuing airworthiness maintenance, and component/airframe traceability standards that are based on Part 121.
· Higher drop altitude creating a mission profile that improves ground and flight crew safety
· Significantly increased volume of agent available
· Increased enroute speed to the fire
· Pressurized/ air conditioned operations throughout the aircrafts mission profile