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 aircraft s 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. Evergreen s Supertanker utilizes a new type of pressurized system allowing the aircraft to fight fire from higher altitudes. Depending on mission requirements, the Supertanker s 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 Supertanker s tank system allows segmented drops. This means that the aircraft can drop its 20,500