Jumbo Air Tanker Wins Protest, May Fight More U.S. Wildfires

Nov 9, 2017

Credit Claude Paris / Associated Press

A giant passenger jet converted to fight wildfires but grounded by U.S. officials during much of this year's fire season could be aloft much more next year.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office on Thursday sided with Global SuperTanker Services in its protest against the U.S. Forest Service.

The Colorado-based company challenged the Forest Service's 5,000-gallon (19,000-liter) limit on air tankers that kept the 19,000-gallon (72,000-liter) Boeing 747-400 idle until late August. After that it flew only in California.

The accountability office says the Forest Service's decision to exclude the jumbo air tanker from competing for federal contracts isn't reasonable.

Officials recommended the Forest Service revise its size limits and the company be reimbursed costs involved in making the protest.

Global SuperTanker CEO Jim Wheeler says he's pleased with the decision.