By Guy Norris in San Bernardino
|Evergreen hopes the US Forest Service will award contract in August|
Evergreen International Aviation hopes to clinch US Federal Aviation Administration Part 25 certification for its modified Boeing 747-200 Supertanker firefighting aircraft in July, and is optimistic the US Forest Service (USFS) will award it an initial evaluation contract around August.
Evergreen, which has invested around $40 million in the project, believes the certification and contract will mark a critical breakthrough in its plan for a fleet of up to five Supertankers for US and international firefighting work. “The Forest Service has made a verbal commitment to us and plans to issue a contract this August,” said Evergreen Supertanker Services senior vice president Sam White, speaking at San Bernardino, California on the sixth and final stop on a five-state tour.
White says the USFS “most likely will designate operations from a specific base, with a 500nm [900km] radius of operations. Ultimately the goal is also to fight fires at night when the fires are more dormant.”
FAA certification will enable Evergreen to operate the Supertanker overseas, in fire trouble- spots such as Greece and the south of France. Evergreen is exploring technologies for night operations including forward-looking infrared with a targeting system, night-vision goggles and helmet-mounted displays, says Supertanker production manager Chris Harris.
A video clip of the 747-200 Supertanker releasing its load of around 77,700litres (20,500USGal) is shown below.