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How do firefighting planes refill?
Some firefighting aircraft can refill their tanks in mid-flight, by flying down to skim the surface of large bodies of water. One example is the Bombardier CL-415. This is particularly useful in rural areas where flying back to an airbase for refills may take too much time.
How much does a plane load of fire retardant cost?
In 2020, the federal government and state agencies dropped over 56 million gallons (211,983,060 liters) of retardant, which costs on average $3.10 per gallon, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.
What is the red stuff that comes out of firefighting planes?
Known as Phos-Chek, the fire retardant has been used to fight blazes since 1963 and has been the main long-term fire retardant used by the California Department of Forestry & Fire Protection in recent years.
Why is firefighting plane water red?
It’s a sight now synonymous with California’s fire season: A tanker aircraft flies over vegetation and drops a stream of red. But what exactly is that stuff? It’s fire retardant, used in preemptive strikes to keep flames from spreading.
How does a 737 water bomber fill up?
Water bomber operators generally fill these tanks on the ground. Certain amphibious designs can fill up on the move. They do so by skimming along bodies of water. As seen below, these tanks have hatches on their underside that can open and shut, allowing the aircraft to drop water onto blazes directly below them.
How much does a 747 fire retardant drop cost?
Some of them are DC-10’s and others are 747’s which can carry up to 11,000 gallons of retardant. The cost for each drop is $65,000 plus about $22,000 an hour in flight time. Next are the Heavy Air Tankers which can carry about 3,000 gallons of retardant.
Is the fire retardant dropped from planes toxic?
What fire crews are dropping on fires is called Phos-Chek, which is an 88% water-based retardant mixed with a non-toxic commercial grade fertilizer. It’s has a clay-based dye to make it visible from the air and on the ground.