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US Why won't the U.S. gov't let the world's largest firefighting aircraft fly?

18:10  17 july  2017
18:10  17 july  2017 Source:   cbsnews.com

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More than 50 large wildfires are scorching land this morning across the western U . S . But a new firefighting tool is sitting idle in an airport hangar in California because the U . S . Forest Service refuses to let it fly .

Meet the world ' s largest firefighting plane. The Boeing 747-400 Supertanker is fighting the massive wildfires in Northern California. The aircraft , which first flew for Japan Airlines in 1991, was converted into a tanker last year.

More than 50 large wildfires are scorching land this morning across the western U.S. But a new firefighting tool is sitting idle in an airport hangar in California because the U.S. Forest Service refuses to let it fly.

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The converted Boeing 747 jet, nicknamed the SuperTanker, can drop almost twice as much fire retardant as the largest airtanker currently in service.

Western Canada wildfires prompt state of emergency, evacuations

  Western Canada wildfires prompt state of emergency, evacuations Some 180 wildfires raged over a massive section of Western Canada's British Columbia on Saturday, prompting the evacuation of 3,000 households and the province's first state of emergency in 14 years. Trending Now: Top 7 Cards For Excellent Credit See The Top Cards Sponsored by NextAdvisor The blazes were scattered across hundreds of kilometers of the interior portion of the province, burning through bone-dry forests used for logging and rolling grasslands that are home to ranches. High temperatures and winds complicated firefighting efforts.

More than 50 large wildfires are scorching land this morning across the western U . S . But a new firefighting tool is sitting idle in an airport hangar in California because the U . S . Forest Service refuses to let it fly .

Largest aircraft in the world 1946 to 1947 when the even heavier Hughes H-4 Hercules first flew . First intercontinental strategic bomber, longest wingspan for a combat aircraft . Convair XC-99.

"We're the very largest in the world -- there's nobody out there that comes close," said Jim Wheeler.  His company, Global SuperTanker, turned a 747-400 series passenger jet -- one of the biggest in the sky -- into the world's largest fire extinguisher.

"We can drop a line of retardant about three kilometers long, about a mile-and-a-half," Wheeler told CBS News correspondent Mark Strassmann, as the plane performed a test run in Colorado last fall.

But in this country, it's virtually worthless unless the U.S. Forest Service gives it permission to fight fires -- something the agency has yet to do, even though the plane was certified by the FAA last September, and has since fought fires in Chile and Israel.

"The frustration factor is exceptionally high," Wheeler said. "It's very hard to watch property burn and lives lost, and we can't get in and help."

Military plane crashes in Mississippi; 5 dead

  Military plane crashes in Mississippi; 5 dead A C-130 aircraft crashed Monday afternoon in LeFlore County, claiming at least five lives, officials said. Sheriff Ricky Banks said there were five confirmed dead as of 6:15 p.m. CT and that there were supposed to be nine people aboard the plane. Mississippi Emergency Management Agency Director Lee Smithson said the aircraft was a C-130 transport plane. It crashed on the Sunflower-Leflore county line in central Mississippi, he said. LeFlore County deputy coroner Will Gnemi confirmed that the coroner's office was called to the scene. He said they were looking for other victims at the rural crash site, searching in a field with tall vegetation. "Please join Deborah and me in praying for those hurting after this tragedy," Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant said in a statement on Facebook. "Our men and women in uniform risk themselves every day to secure our freedom." The Lockheed C-130 Hercules is a four-engine turboprop aircraft used primarily for military transportation. It's known as a workhorse used in humanitarian missions, firefighting, search and rescue, and combat missions, according to the Lockheed Martin website. Smithson said it was unclear if the plane belonged to the Tennessee National Guard or if it was active duty Air Force.

More than 50 large wildfires are scorching land this morning across the western U . S . But a new firefighting tool is sitting idle in an airport hangar in California because the U . S . Forest Service refuses to let it fly .

Why ? Unless They Are Behind These Fires . If you can’ t get them to move out, smoke them out. World ’ s largest firefighting aircraft grounded by U . S . gov ’ t ;SQ-OUTRAGEOUS-IT’S ALMOST LIKE SOMEONE WANS MONTANA WILDERNESS BURNED UP?WAIT OF COURSE THEY DO-CALL

In May, the Forest Service issued a request for new airtankers, but said it would only give contracts to planes with a dispensing capacity of between 3,000 and 5,000 gallons. The supertanker can drop more than 19,000 gallons of water or retardant at a time.

global-supertanker-water-drop-620.jpg© Provided by CBS Interactive Inc. global-supertanker-water-drop-620.jpg

Wheeler said, "It begs the question: if your house is on fire, are you going to call the smallest, slowest fire truck?"

Some firefighter advocacy groups suggest the Forest Service might be trying to control its budget, causing delays for the plane, which could cost as much as $250,000 a day to operate. The Forest Service says it can't comment on the dispute because Wheeler filed an official protest last month.

According to Wheeler, the aircraft can be filled in less than 30 minutes. But it's not just the speed and size that make the Supertaker powerful; its pressurized tank system atomizes the water when it's released, rather than just dumping it, like a bucket. "It doesn't break down tree limbs, it won't crush cars or buildings," Wheeler said.

Taiwan says Chinese carrier sails into its defense zone

  Taiwan says Chinese carrier sails into its defense zone Chinese aircraft carrier the Liaoning entered Taiwan's air defense identification zone early on Wednesday morning on its way back from Hong Kong and is being monitored, Taiwan's defense ministry said, adding there was no cause for alarm. The Liaoning left Hong Kong at noon on Tuesday, before entering Taiwan's defense zone by traveling in a northerly direction via the western side of the Taiwan Strait, the ministry said.Taiwan was monitoring the situation, had detected nothing unusual and people should not be alarmed, it added.

World ' s largest firefighting aircraft . More than 50 large wildfires are scorching land this morning across the western U . S . But a new firefighting tool is sitting idle in an airport hangar in Boeing 747s to Fly As Firefighting Super Tankers. Why won ' t the U . S . gov ' t let the world ' s .

Currently the world ' s largest helicopter, the Mil Mi-26, uses a Bambi bucket. Some firefighting aircraft can refill their tanks in mid-flight, by flying down to skim the surface of large bodies of water. One example is the Bombardier CL-415.

And a firefighter or a stranded resident who happens to be under this big dump of water will be be fine. "You'll get wet, but won't be killed," Wheeler said.

Strassmann asked, "Why hasn't someone done this until now?"

"There's a lot of cost involved in doing this, a lot of testing and a lot of paperwork, and I think that scares most people," Wheeler replied.

California's fire agency currently has an agreement to use the plane, but can't deploy it until the Forest Service gives its approval. It's an expensive aircraft, but at a time of ever-growing wildfires threatening lives and property, Wheeler feels his service is a bargain. "You're not going to put out a 4,000-acre or larger fire with buckets and helicopters.  It's just physically impossible," he said.

The SuperTanker, a converted 747-400 passenger jet, can drop more than 19,000 gallons of water or retardant at a time.: global-supertanker-water-drop-promo.jpg© Global SuperTanker global-supertanker-water-drop-promo.jpg

State of emergency in British Columbia extended as wildfires rage .
British Columbia's government took the unprecedented step on Wednesday of extending a state of emergency by two weeks as it battled 155 wildfires that have forced nearly 50,000 people from their homes. Has Your Home's Value Increased? See It's Current Worth Sponsored by Trulia The province's Premier John Horgan said evacuated households would receive C$600 ($476.53) from the government to cover basic needs for every 14 days they cannot return home. The government issued the first such payment two weeks ago.

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