We have all seen fire fire trucks, helicopters, small aircrafts and various manual methods for fighting fires. Using a McDonnell Douglas DC10, wide bodied passenger jet for fighting fires sounds unrealistic, doesn’t it? Surprisingly, the DC10 Air Tanker has been in service to fight forest fires since 2006. It was developed by a company named ’10 Tanker’, which specializes in fixed wing aircraft fire fighting. After multiple years of research, DC-10 was selected as THE aircraft to be put into service for fighting fires.
Some fun facts about the DC-10 Air Tanker:
- The DC10 Air Tanker can carry up to 45,000 liters (12k US Gallons) of water or fire retardant. Fire retardant is a mix of water and liquid nitrogen. It is used to reduce the evaporation rate.
- Three DC-10’s are currently in service as of 2016. They are called Tanker 910, Tanker 911 & Tanker 912.
- Three center line tanks are retrofitted to the belly of the DC-10 aircraft. The tanks can be filled in approximately 15-20 mins. While actively fighting fires, the aircrafts can take off in less than an hour.
- The DC10 Air Tankers typically have a three member crew. Pilot, Co-Pilot & a flight engineer.
- Aerial fire fighting is a very efficient way of tackling fires. Of all the types of aircrafts that have ever been used, the DC-10’s are the least expensive with a combination of efficiency, capability and safety.
- Despite its size, the DC-10 air tankers have safely maneuvered in the toughest of terrains.
- These aircrafts were first used in California and lately they have been used by other states in the US (Oregon, Texas, Colorado & Washington). They have also been commissioned in Australia to fight wild fires.
- There has only been one incident involving a DC10 air tanker. During one of its 2007 fire fighting runs, the flight encountered severe turbulence resulting in a drop of altitude. The left wing struck some trees but the pilots were quickly able to pull back up from descent. The aircraft was grounded following the incident for investigations. However, it was back in the skies in about a month.
Check out this video to watch the amazing DC-10 air tanker in action:
pic courtesy: www.10tanker.com