USA — The largest aircraft ever built for fighting wildfires landed at Boeing Field in Seattle this week. The plane is to be certified, and then sent off to help during the impending fire season in the arid areas of the Western United States.
The 747-400 joins the worlds fleet of aerial firefighting tankers, not only as the youngest VLAT (very large air tanker) but with nearly twice the capacity of the next-largest tanker.
According to aircraft owner Global SuperTanker Service, the jumbo jet uses two separate constant flow systems. These are pressurized, allowing for either continuous discharge or up to eight segmented drops. The system is approved for fire retardant, gel, foam and water drops, or the combination of any two of the aforementioned agents. This makes the plane able to respond to a variety of fires, including marine, industrial and forest fires.
Flying from its base in Colorado Springs, the tanker can reach most parts of North America in under 4.5 hours, ready to discharge its massive load of almost 20,000 gallons of fire retardant.
Below, the Supertanker demonstrates its impressive discharge capabilities in this video of a low-altitude water-drop test at Colorado Springs Airport.: