We now know why the 747 firefighting jet is just sitting on the tarmac at the Colorado Springs Airport.
Some federal government bureaucrat has decided it is more important to glue thousands of paper cups to thousands of posts, arrange them in a grid, have the aircraft drop water on the grid and then weigh each cup to see how much water is in each of them than it is to put out fires.
This ridiculous exercise in bureaucracy is a required part of federal approval for an aircraft to dump water onto a raging forest fire.
Evidently the dispersion pattern of an air drop must be just so, must meet some exacting standard set up by the government that cannot possibly be set aside for now, so that lives and property can be saved. Talk about losing sight of the forest for the trees.
The company, GlobalSuperTanker has designed and tested the dispersion system extensively. It is designed to atomize the liquid to prevent crushing amounts of water smashing things as it comes down. It's a system that exceeds what the government requires, but the government won't believe its eyes or company data.
Here's how they should be doing their approval: Load the aircraft up with 20,000 gallons of fire retardant or just plain water. Fly it over a forest fire. Dump the load on the fire. Repeat until the fire is out. Then, after the fire is out, examine the effectiveness of the air drops and if necessary make corrections to the system over the winter, when people's lives and property are not at stake.
There's a fundamental rule of firefighting: Get water on the flames. If you've got a bucket, use a bucket. If you've got a garden hose, use a garden hose. If you have a fire truck with a fire hose, use the fire hose. If you have an air tanker capable of dropping 20,000 gallons of water on a forest fire, use it.
There's another fundamental premise of firefighting: Get water on the fire as soon as it is humanly possible to do so, because the smaller the fire is when you do so, the more quickly you can put it out. Five gallons of water at the right place at the right time can completely stop a forest fire from happening.
Twenty thousand gallons can put out a lot of fire instantly. The GlobalSuperTanker can lay down a 1.5-mile long strip of fire retardant or plain water in one pass. Using compressed air the tanks can be reloaded in less than 30 minutes. In Chile, they had it down to 13 minutes. One pass takes the place of five smaller 5,000-gallon drops in a fifth the time and is more effective.
It is not as if this aircraft has never put out a fire.
It is FAA-certified and has been doing so for some time, just not in the U.S. One need only view the many YouTube videos of this very aircraft saving the town of Santo Domingo, Chile, in January to see proof of this, and these videos should be all the Forest Service needs to put the GlobalSuperTanker in the air.
More delay only puts lives at risk without justification for doing so. Set aside bureaucratic obstacles and get it in the air, tomorrow.
Nobody in Chile cared how many drops of water were in a bureaucrat's paper cup. They only cared that miles of fire line were snuffed out in moments by an aircraft that isn't allowed to do the same thing here in the United States.
That is simply unconscionable and President Donald Trump needs to sign an executive order commanding the aircraft be placed into service immediately, suspending all further certification requirements until after fire season ends.
So give the White House a call, or send an email. Contact your members of Congress and demand that they contact the president and make him aware of this nonsensical bureaucratic obstructionism that is pointlessly endangering property and lives. Do whatever you can to get the GlobalSuperTanker into the air and free of the chains of bureaucracy that bind it to the ground for no good reason.
Readers can contact Scott Weiser at email@example.com.