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Developers of the 747 are hoping to have the plane approved and ready to fight fires this year but that's only if they can get the green light from the U.S. Forest Service.
By Bryan Corliss
Herald aerospace writer
An Oregon company is experimenting with using a modified Boeing 747 to drop enormous amounts of water on wildfires.
In initial tests, the prototype - a modified 747-200 cargo jet - performed remarkably well, said Penn Stohr, director of flight operations for Evergreen International Aviation's 747 "supertanker" program.
"Its maneuverability is very, very good for its size," he said. "We're very, very satisfied."
Evergreen has been working on the program for about two years, but the concept gained new urgency after the federal government's joint tanker board grounded some of the contractors who used to provide aerial firefighting services to the U.S. Forest Service and other agencies, citing safety concerns.