Fire fighting 747 strategically positioned for time-sensitive US operations
The Pocatello Regional Airport is one of the locations that was selected on 21 July 2017 to house operations of a Boeing 747 used to fight fires. The air tanker is able to drop more than 72 000 litres of suppressant. It can reach speeds of almost 1 000 kilometres per hour, allowing it reach any part of the US within two and a half hours. The airport in Pocatello, Idaho, doesn't normally handle planes as big as a 747 but there are certain preparations in place, including using steel plates so the plane doesn’t damage the asphalt when it gets hot. David Allen, the airport manager said, "A 747 is quite big. It has a 60 to 63 metre wingspan. It’s a very large airplane. We are a little concerned about takeoff on the runway and whether it could possibly blow our runway lights down or something like that." Officials with Global SuperTanker Services filed a protest with the US Forest Service in June 2017 contesting a contract limiting fire fighting aircraft to 19 000 litres. The limit appears to conflict with the Forest Service's 2012 air tanker modernisation strategy report identifying air tankers capable of dropping more than 30 000 litres as a part of its fire fighting effort. Global SuperTanker Services is still contesting the US Forest Service’s 19 000 litre limit imposed on fire fighting aircraft.