FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Will the Evergreen Supertanker replace the existing aerial firefighting fleet?
The Supertanker is just another tool in the aerial firefighting toolbox. It is not intended to replace helicopters or all the air tankers fighting fires today.
How much does the Evergreen Supertanker drop?
The Supertanker has 20,500 gallons of tank space onboard. This represents more than eight times the drop capability of the commonly used large airtanker, the P3. The Evergreen Supertanker also has the capability of performing segmented drops in quantities greater than or equal to the P3.
How safe is the Evergreen Supertanker?
Evergreen is working with the FAA to assure that the Supertanker is maintained under the strictest federal aviation regulations. This will help bring about the highest standards of safety, maintenance and training to the aerial firefighting industry. In addition, to ensure an elevated level of safety, the Evergreen Supertanker is outfitted with a flight data recorder able to monitor airframe loads.
Also, the Supertanker, even with 20,500 gallons of retardant, is still 150,000 lbs below its maximum takeoff weight capacity. This provides an enhanced safety margin. Current airtankers takeoff at allowable maximum certified takeoff weight, leaving no margin for error. The weight of a fully loaded Supertanker aircraft is still below the maximum landing weight. This means there will never be a mission where pilots will have to dump the entire load, even if the aircraft is full, before landing.
How can a plane the size of a Boeing 747 fly low enough to be an effective firefighting tool?
Current firefighting aircraft use a gravity drop system. Quite simply, this means they have tanks with doors that open and discharge the aircrafts contents. This type of system requires an aircraft to fly very low, around 200 ft. It is very dangerous work; especially since the majority of air tankers used in the U.S. are vintage World War II era aircraft designed for high altitude bombing missions.
Evergreens Supertanker utilizes a new type of pressurized system allowing the aircraft to fight fire from higher altitudes. Depending on mission requirements, the Supertankers versatile application system can disperse retardant under high pressure, for an overwhelming response, or drop retardant equivalent to the speed of falling rain. The system was designed to allow the Evergreen Supertanker to fly at a very safe altitude, 300 to 600 ft, and within its design envelope. Also, the Evergreen Supertankers tank system allows segmented drops. This means that the aircraft can drop its 20,500 gallons at multiple intervals while in flight.
What is the Evergreen Supertankers drop speed over the fire?
At no time in flight will the Evergreen Supertanker operate outside the Boeing 747s normal operating parameters. The drop speed is approximately 140 knots. This provides a 30% cushion over the Boeing 747s stall speed. During a retardant drop, the Evergreen Supertanker is configured as if it were approaching for a landing and is well within all the typical speed parameters that a Boeing 747 would normally be in when approaching an airport for a landing.
What airports will Evergreen operate the Supertanker out of?
Evergreen will operate the aircraft from any major airport with sufficient ramp space to load the aircraft. These include civilian bases, joint use civilian/military bases and accessible military bases. Generally, the runway requirements for the Evergreen Supertanker are 8000 feet.
Can the Supertanker fight fires at night, while they are most vulnerable?
The Supertanker utilizes advanced avionics and flies at higher, safer altitudes, which will enable fire agencies the option of fighting fires at night, while they are dormant.
Are there any other markets for the Evergreen Supertanker? Can it operate globally?
Evergreen is studying other applications for the Supertanker. Oil spill containment, chemical decontamination and weather modification are all potential markets for this aircraft. Because the aircraft is pressurized, the Evergreen Supertanker has the capability of any long-range Boeing 747 passenger aircraft. This allows the aircraft to deploy to any international location.