Re: 737-200 water bomber!

From: (Paul Siller)
Organization: Counter Current
Date:         10 Jun 96 12:22:22 
References:   1 2 3
Followups:    1
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Don Stokes <> wrote:

> writes:
>>	While the idea of a 737 waterbomber might sound outrageous at
>>first, it is really inevitable.  There is a strong push to reduce the
>>time it takes to get from base to a fire, while carrying a large
>>retardant load, so over the years, ever faster and bigger aircraft have
>>been used.  Using a 737 is a natural extension of this evolution.  I am
>>working on this project and find it to be quite sensible.

>A couple of questions from someone who knows nothing about putting out
>fires from fixed-wing aircraft (in NZ they usually use helicopters with
>monsoon buckets, loading from the nearest lake or reservoir):

>When we talk about a "waterbomber", are we talking about something
>designed to drop ordinary H20, say that scooped out of a lake, or a more
>complex manufactured fire retardent?  I note that a lot of "waterbombers"
>are converted float planes or flying boats, which I'd assumed scooped
>water into their tanks.

This part of Canada tends to call the retardent- carrying planes "fire
bombers" and the float planes "water bombers."

The water bombers excel in parts of the country were there are many
lakes, and offer a short load-drop-load cycle.  However the water in a
fire can evaporate(given time) and the area can start burning again.

The retardent bombers are more useful  over the longer distances
between an airport and the fire. Ofsetting the greater travelling
time, the retardent carried on these bombers "sticks" to the trees and
helps keep the drop area from re-igniting.

In the end the ground crews are the ones who really put out the fire -
the air drops , help contain it.

>I assume that a 737 waterbomber is *not* going to be skimming a lake....

>I wouldn't have thought a 737 -- designed for a cruising altitude in the
>vicinity of 30,000 ft and a speed to match -- would be that well suited
>to the job.  What about an aircraft like a BAe146, with much better low
>speed characteristics, yet still with a reasonable cruising speed?  Am I
>missing something here?

>Or is the major factor availability of the aircraft for the conversion?

Availablity plays the big part. The aircraft become rather single
purpose after conversion. Ability to carry a load would play a second
part. Having watched an A-26 drop it's load and SLIDE it onto the
fire, i don't think you have to get that slow.

Converted aircraft I have seen in Canada
	Grumman S-2 Tracker
	Douglas A-26
	Canso (PBY)

All of these are surplus/unwanted. An old 737 would be cheap to pick
up and with two engines, possible cheaper to maintain than the

I don't think I could bear to watch a 737 fly  in a mountainous area.

>Don Stokes, Network Manager, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand.
> +64 4 495-5052 Fax+64 4 471-5386