Global SuperTanker Services to shut down, fate of “944” is uncertain

"Spirit of John Muir"

Global SuperTanker Services operates a Boeing 747-400 SuperTanker “944” that has been contracted to fight many forest fires, mainly in the western United States, as well as Israel in 2016 and Chile in 2017.

The company is facing an uncertain future.

The financial backers have decided to no longer support the operation financially according to Fire Aviation. According to this report, the company ceased operations this week unless it can find new investors. Any new investors will have to resolve issues brought up by the governing bodies (see letter below).

The company is in discussions with several possible buyers and investors to replace the current group. The aircraft may also be sold as a freighter.

Meanwhile the 2021 fire season in the western United States is just starting.

JAL-Japan Airlines Boeing 747-446 JA8086 (msn 25308) NRT (Michael B. Ing). Image: 901544.

Above Copyright Photo: JAL-Japan Airlines Boeing 747-446 JA8086 (msn 25308) NRT (Michael B. Ing). Image: 901544.

The airframe previously operated for JAL – Japan Airlines as JA8086 (above) and with Evergreen International Airlines as N492EV.

Joel Kerley, Chair, National Interagency Aviation Committee wrote the following letter to the company last year forcing the shutdown this year:

National Wildfire Coordinating Group National Interagency Aviation Committee

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30 April 2020
Dan Reese, President, Global SuperTanker Services, LLC Joel Kerley, Chair, National Interagency Aviation Committee

Global SuperTanker Services Approved for Interim Approval of Retardant Delivery System in Boeing 747-400

This memo is in response to the Global SuperTanker Services (GSTS) letter dated March 20, 2020 in requesting interim approval of the retardant delivery system of Boeing 747-400.

The Interagency Air Tanker Subcommittee (IABS) has elevated GSTS’s request for a seventh interim approval to the National Interagency Aviation Committee (NIAC), which is the parent committee for IABS. The IABS does not support any further interim approvals without correcting some issues originally identified in the 2009 test of the system that included failure to meet coverage level 3 & 6, retention of retardant in the system after drop, aeration of the retardant causing trail off, and inconsistent flight profiles affecting retardant coverage.

Due to the current national situation regarding the Coronavirus (COVID-19), NIAC will issue an eighth interim approval to GSTS. However, NIAC will not support, nor issue a ninth interim until GSTS successfully passes all requirements of the 2013 IABS Criteria. This must be completed prior to December 31, 2020.

In order to be issued a ninth approval, GSTS must successfully pass all requirements of the 2013 IABS Criteria. The IABS will continue working with GSTS through static and grid testing to ensure all criteria requirements are fully passed. Once all requirements are passed, all deficiencies are corrected, and no new deficiencies are identified, the IABS will issue an additional interim approval for field evaluations. The number of static and grid tests to pass the standard will depend on the corrections made to the system. If continued or new failures are identified, further testing will be required until the system meets the requirements prior to consideration of an interim approval.

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Top Copyright Photo: Global SuperTanker Services Boeing 747-446 (Tanker) N744ST (msn 25308) SBD (Michael B. Ing). Image: 950975.

 

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