The operators of the Boeing 747 converted from a passenger jet into a firefighting air tanker say it has proven itself battling forest fires in countries outside the U.S. The modifications allow it to drop more than 19,000 gallons (72,000 liters) of a flame-squelching combination of ammonium phosphate and sulfate mixed with water that comes billowing out in a red-colored line. But the company says the U.S. Forest Service is seeking to keep the plane grounded by offering a contract limiting firefighting aircraft to 5,000 gallons (18,900 liters) of fire suppressant and won’t say why. The company says the federal agency is putting homes and lives at risk just as the current wildfire season surges past the 10-year average for land area burned in a decade that includes some of the most destructive and deadly wildfire seasons on record. Late last month, the company filed a protest with the Forest Service contesting the size limit that appears to conflict with the Forest Service’s 2012 air tanker modernization strategy report.
Listen to Lars get an update from Jim Wheeler on use of his global supertanker and his talks with the US Forest Service.
Check out Jim Wheeler’s Company here