World's largest aerial firefighting tanker pending approval in SoCal

VICTORVILLE, Calif. (KABC) -- The world's largest aerial firefighting tanker in the world is here in California, but there is a delay before the SuperTanker can take flight.

There are more than 11 active wildfires burning in California. Global SuperTanker is poised to help extinguish those blazes as the largest firefighting tanker in the world.

The converted 747 passenger jet is retrofitted with massive tanks capable of dumping nearly 20,000 gallons of fire retardant or water in 12 seconds.

"We can lay lines down that are extremely long... that might take other tankers five to seven drops to do," said Capt. Tom Parsons of the Global SuperTanker Services.

For now, it sits idle on a Victorville tarmac. Without approval from the U.S. Forest Service Interagency Air Tanker Board, the supertanker cannot get off the ground.

"We are waiting to hear from the Forest Service on approval of an interim to fight fires, but right now, we are not flying on any fires," Parsons said.

A statement from The U.S. Forest Service said that tests performed on Global SuperTanker tanking system needed adjustment to ensure proper delivery.

Those tests have been performed, but approval is pending.

While grounded in the U.S. without IAB approval, the SuperTanker has proven effective internationally.

This past year, the tanker has fought fires in Israel and Chile.

"We are accredited with actually saving lives, saving structures and building and saving towns," Parsons said.

Adding to the frustration, the U.S. Forest Service has capped tanker capacity it will utilize on fires at 5,000 gallons.

The SuperTanker carries four times that amount. In order to fly in the U.S. and Canada, approval is required.

"If we do have IAB approval, we can go work for Colorado, California, possibly Texas and Canada so there's plenty of work," Parsons said. "There are lots of fires and they seem to be getting more and more every year."
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