I have been writing about this for a couple of weeks now and it is now making it's way into the main stream media.
The news today is that the Obama Administration is refusing to use the Evergreen 747 Supertanker that can carry 20,000 gallons of water or fire retardent.
Today, Evergreen released a letter stating that the U.S. government will not contract with them, though they are not sure why but is speculating: http://www.evergreenaviation.com/pdf/Supertanker_Statement_062912.pdf
The whole letter is here:
We felt compelled to release this statement due to the overwhelming amount of calls we have
received concerning the availability of the Evergreen Supertanker. We at Evergreen are saddened
by the fire devastation now taking place in many Western US states. For over 60 years, we have
supported the US Forest Service in its important mission to battle and control fires, and it is our
desire to continue this rich history of service. While our helicopters continue to work fires for the
State of Alaska under State contracts, unfortunately, our Boeing 747 Supertanker Very Large Air
Tanker (VLAT) aircraft awaits activation with the US Forest Service.
We have never been told why we have not been activated by the US Forest Service, so we can
only speculate as to why we face this outcome:
1. We were offered a Call-When-Needed (CWN) contract a few years ago by the US Forest
Service (proving our technical viability), but we were never called into action resulting in
a multi-million dollar loss to our company as we were required to maintain and have
flight crew available should we be called. The only contract that will sustain a VLAT
program is an Exclusive-Use contract, which provides an income stream to sustain the
program even if the asset is not utilized. We invested over $50M to develop this asset in
the firm belief that we could better control fires as we proved in Israel and Mexico under
CWN contracts that we could afford to offer at the time.
2. There have been recent changes to the US Forest Service procurement policies. Today,
only small businesses are eligible for contract awards concerning air tanker assets;
Evergreen is not a small business and, therefore, is excluded from consideration for any
3. The US Forest Service’s specification for Next Generation Air Tanker aircraft limits tank
size to 5,000 gallons. The Supertanker’s tanks hold about 20,000 gallons, which is
considered outside the USFS specification. The USFS just awarded contracts to four
small businesses with aircraft equipped with these smaller tanks, and excluded the
Evergreen Supertanker. Since World War II, tank capacities have been in the 3,000 to
5,000 gallon range, yet we continue to face the growing threat from mega fires today. We
believe the Supertanker represents an overwhelming response to this growing threat.
Please contact your state representatives in Washington DC to demand an examination of their
current procurement policies concerning VLAT aircraft.
Meanwhile, the wildfires throughout the west are burning , destroying homes and killing people, even though Obama and his ilk can do something to help the firefighters, keep homes from burning and keep people from dying.
Obama sits while people are dying.
And if you are one of the people calling Evergreen, thanks.
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