Supertanker aircraft rescues homes from forest fires in Israel

World Today

Last month, a week-long series of brush fires destroyed thousands of acres of forest, as well as hundreds of homes in Israel.

Among the aircraft summoned to help was a specially-fitted 747, which made its firefighting debut.

CCTV’s Hendrik Sybrandy reports. Follow Hendrik Sybrandy on Twitter @hsybrandy

Supertanker aircraft rescues homes from forest fires in Israel

Last month, a week-long series of brush fires destroyed thousands of acres of forest, as well as hundreds of homes in Israel. Among the aircraft summoned to help was a specially-fitted 747, which made its firefighting debut. CCTV’s Hendrik Sybrandy reports.

For decades now, the Boeing 747-400 jumbo jet has been a reliable part of the commercial air fleet.

This one happens to be the world’s largest aerial firefighting asset. It flies nearly 1,000 kilometers per hour so it’s quick to the scene. It carries nearly twice as much fire retardant, 73,000 liters worth, as any other aircraft.

Bob Soelberg is the senior vice president of Global Supertanker Services, which got the call to send its 747-400 to Israel several weeks ago. Hundreds of brush fires had broken out in rare November heat.

A crew of 12 rushed to Israel and were put to work immediately.

There are 10 liquid storage tanks on board the aircraft as well as eight air tanks. When that air is pre-charged, it sends the liquid through nozzles shooting down to the ground.

Unlike other fire retardant systems, this one knocks down fires but not people, their homes or cars.

Parsons said the plane is more maneuverable than many people think.

Although it played a role in the Israeli firefight, this supertanker, which is still awaiting final U.S. certification, could loom large next year. The 747-400 can be anywhere in the world 24 hours after a request is made.