The world’s largest firefighting aircraft, Boeing 747-446-BCF SuperTanker N744ST (c/n 25308), named Spirit of John Muir, undertook its first deployment late in November 2016 in response to an urgent request from the Israel Government for the aircraft to help fight wildfires in the country.
The 747-400 SuperTanker, operated by Global SuperTanker Services at Colorado Springs, arrived in Tel Aviv just 24 hours after the request was received. The jet joined a team of Israeli and international firefighters – including aircraft sent from France, Greece and Spain – in the fight against large wildfires north of Jerusalem.
The 747-400 SuperTanker is the world’s newest very large air tanker. It can deliver nearly 20,000 US gallons (75,708 litres) of water, suppressant or fire retardant in single or multiple segmented drops which can be released at variable rates. The aircraft has double the capacity of the next-largest firefighting aircraft.
The jet received its final safety and operational approvals from the US Federal Aviation Administration in September 2016, under Federal Aviation Regulation (FAR) certificate 137, permitting its use for wildland and marine firefighting as well as oil spill remediation.
The SuperTanker is a converted 747- 400 built in 1991 and originally operated by Japan Airlines. It was later converted to a freighter and used by Evergreen International Airlines. Global SuperTanker Services received a Supplemental Type Certificate from the FAA that authorised the conversion of the aircraft into a tanker, covering the installation and use of pressurised tanks.
Global SuperTanker is currently working to achieve its final US Forest Service certifications. The aircraft is available to US states, counties and cities, and overseas entities. Mark Broadbent