Firefighting Aircraft Boeing B747

This B747 might be one of the most versatile aircrafts ever invented. It is not only a wide-body jet that carries passengers around the world for more than 46 active years of service, but also this enormous plane is a firefighting machine. Global SuperTanker just scored FAA aerial firefighting approval a few weeks ago. The firefighting aircraft's tech is capable of blasting nearly 20,000 gallons (75708 l) of fire retardant onto a wildfire at 800 feet (244 m).

firefighting aircraft

The airframe of this plane first served Japan Airlines for almost 20 years before it was used by now-defunct Evergreen International Aviation. Evergreen had ambitious plans to convert four of its B747 cargo ships into firefighting aircraft. Although only one of the airplanes was fully renovated, it still wound up in Arizona desert waiting to be used. Financial woes forced Evergreen into bankruptcy and the supertanker seemed to be doomed. After a few years a new business called Global SuperTanker turned up with ambitious plans to rescue the flying firetruck. They recruited a large team of original Evergreen crew and with their help the old Evergreen B747-100 was upgraded to newer and more powerful B747-400.

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The B747's liquid drop system is quite advanced. This particular aircraft has eight large pressurized tanks each holding 200 lbs (91 kg) of air and can disperse retardant under high pressure or gently spray it. It can also release its entire load on one target or up to eight segmented drops.

This firefighting aircraft can stack 19,600 gallons (74194 l) of retardant in its cargo hold. It is twice as much as the next largest aerial tanker which carries only 11,600 gallons (43910 l). Also the system is suitable for retardant, gel, foam, and water drops, or even the combination of any two of these substances. Since this plane is an airliner transformed into a cargo, it can still cruise at over 600 mph (965 kmh). Which means that it can reach any location in the US from its Colorado base in approximately 2.5 hours and the rest of North America in only two additional hours.

firefighting aircraft