Global SuperTanker Services, LLC’s high capacity, rapid response aerial firefighting technology received interim approval from the U.S. Interagency Airtanker Board (IAB) on January 6. The interim approval will allow the tanker to be considered for critical federal, state, and international firefighting contracts ahead of the 2017 forest fire season.
Global SuperTanker’s B747-400, the Spirit of John Muir, incorporates a patented system capable of delivering single or multiple drops aggregating nearly 20,000 gallons of water, fire retardant, or suppressant. These fluids can be released at variable rates from the plane’s pressurized tanks, producing a tailored response to the firefighting need. The Spirit of John Muir is the world’s youngest, most modern, and fastest Very Large Air Tanker (VLAT). It has almost twice the capacity of the next largest aerial tanker.
“IAB approval is an essential requirement in airtanker contracts for some wildfire agencies, including the U.S. Forest Service (USFS),” said Jim Wheeler, President and CEO of Global SuperTanker. “With this approval, we look forward to bidding on – and winning – upcoming domestic and international contracts. We are grateful and excited to join the team of airtankers currently serving a critical mission for the United States and globally, and look forward to continuing to work with the USFS, CAL FIRE, and the IAB during the final approval process.”
Michael Bennet, U.S. Senator for Colorado, said, “Colorado is the perfect place to headquarter the SuperTanker. I am encouraged that the IAB has granted interim approval with the hope that the firefighting capability the tanker provides will be available during the 2017 firefighting season.” Wheeler added, “We appreciate the strong support that Congressman Doug Lamborn has shown throughout this process.”
The Spirit of John Muir received Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approval in September 2016. It set off on its first mission in November 2016, when a series of massive blazes in Israel prompted thousands of evacuations and destroyed hundreds of homes. Global SuperTanker responded immediately to an urgent call for help, flying nonstop on short notice from its home base in Colorado Springs, Colorado, to Tel Aviv, providing crucial firefighting support.
“We were honored to assist the people of Israel during an extremely challenging time,” said Harry Toll, Managing Partner of Alterna Capital Partners LLC, whose portfolio company, Cyterna Air, LLC, owns Global SuperTanker. “We are enormously proud of the Global SuperTanker team and its supporters, and we look forward to helping many more people in the U.S. and abroad in the years to come.”
IAB approval is necessary to win all federal firefighting contracts, as well as most state and some international contracts. Interim approval will allow Global SuperTanker to apply for these contracts – some of which are opening for bid within days – while the IAB considers final certification.
The Spirit of John Muir flies at nearly 600 miles per hour, enabling the converted B747-400 to reach any mission in the western U.S. in fewer than three hours, and any mission in the world in fewer than 20 hours.
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