Credit: Christian Murdock
April 27, 2021 – The Associated Press is reporting that the world’s largest firefighting airplane, a Boeing 747-400 Global SuperTanker, is being taken out of service as uneconomic. The SuperTanker has a 19,400-gallon capacity and is being taken out of service just as experts are predicting an especially nasty fire season in the West due to drought conditions. During the 2020 fire season, there were 58,950 wildfires that burned 15,816 acres, according to the National Interagency Fire Center in Idaho. In 2020, federal and state agencies dropped over 56 million gallons of fire retardant costing an average of $3.10 per gallon. Retardant is used primarily in the Western US and there is disagreement among experts as to its efficacy. The SuperTanker has been deployed primarily in California and Oregon.