North America

Global SuperTanker firefighting B747-400 Cleared to Fly

Global Supertanker
Global SuperTanker

Global SuperTanker Services announced that its firefighting B747-400, the Spirit of John Muir, has received its final safety and operational approvals from the FAA.

“We wish to thank the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), particularly the Los Angeles and Denver offices, for their continued support of Global SuperTanker, and their diligence in ensuring all legal and safety requirements have been met. The air safety regime of the U.S. is second to none, and we are honored to have worked closely with the FAA,” said Jim Wheeler, President and CEO of Global SuperTanker.

“We are proud that our aircraft, the world’s largest, fastest, and longest-range aerial firefighting asset, has met the agency’s rigorous safety standards, and we look forward to working with the FAA in the years to come.”

“Global SuperTanker has completed the requested USFS testing and we are now awaiting the outcome from the Interagency Air Tanker Board (IAB),” said Harry Toll, Managing Partner of Alterna Capital Partners LLC, whose portfolio company, Cyterna Air, LLC, owns Global SuperTanker. “This is a busy time of year for the IAB members, but we are confident they will review the test materials in the very near future. We are volunteering to do all that we can to receive their final approval.”

“We sincerely appreciated the support during testing we received from the USFS staff in San Ditmas, California,” said Wheeler. “We expect the Spirit of John Muir to be fully operational in FAA Standard Category shortly, and are looking forward to our first assignment assisting the current bout of devastating wildland fires.”

Global SuperTanker’s converted B747-400 had previously been issued the FAA’s Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) authorizing the installation and utilization of its pressurized tanks. The FAA has now issued Federal Aviation Regulation (FAR) certificate 137, which allows Global SuperTanker to fly in revenue service. The Spirit of John Muir is now fully certified to operate as an aerial platform for wildland and marine firefighting, as well as oil spill remediation.

The Spirit of John Muir is the world’s youngest Very Large Air Tanker (VLAT), and has almost twice the capacity of the next biggest aerial tanker. The John Muir is capable of delivering single or multiple drops of nearly 20,000 gallons of water or fire retardant, either of which can be released at variable rates from its pressurized tanks, producing a tailored response to the firefighting need.

Global SuperTanker is currently working with the U.S. Forest Service to achieve its final USFS certifications. While the aircraft awaits USFS approval, it is currently available not only to U.S. states, counties, and cities, but also to overseas entities. Jim Wheeler said, “Discussions with fire-related agencies around the world will intensify over the next few weeks, as will our focus on previously discussed call-when-needed contracts.”

Flying at nearly 600 miles per hour, the Spirit of John Muir can leave its home base in Colorado Springs and reach any mission in the western United States in less than three hours. In addition, the range and speed of the B747-400 permits it the ability to arrive anywhere in the world in 20 hours with a single fuel stop.

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