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Transportation Technology

A DC-10 Passenger Plane Is Perfect At Fighting Wildfires 112

Daniel_Stuckey writes: Friday night in Southern California's Silverado Valley, relief flew in on an old airliner. In this summer of drought and fire, the DC-10, an airplane phased out of passenger service in February, has been spotted from Idaho to Arizona delivering up to 12,000 gallons of fire retardant in a single acrobatic swoop.

The three-engine DC-10 entered service in 1970 as a passenger jet, and the last airplane working in that capacity, operated by Biman Bangladesh Airlines, made its final flight on February 24. But some designs defy obsolescence. The DC-10 had already been converted to function as a mid-air refueling airplane for the Air Force, and in 2006, the first fire-fighting DC-10 was unleashed on the Sawtooth fire in San Bernardino County, California.
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A DC-10 Passenger Plane Is Perfect At Fighting Wildfires

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    And DC-8s are good at flying thetans into volcanos.

    • And DC-8s are good at flying thetans into volcanos.

      "The emergency exits are located here, here, and here. In the event of a lava landing, your seat cushion can be used to muffle screams of agony. We know you had no choice, but Thank You for flying Xenu Airlines!"

  • by Anonymous Coward

    DC-8 was coverted to intergalactic travelling.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    And the DC-10 is not certificated for aerobatic maneuvers.

  • Hmmm .... (Score:4, Informative)

    by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Wednesday September 17, 2014 @08:27AM (#47925699) Homepage

    The three-engine DC-10 entered service in 1970 as a passenger jet, and the last airplane working in that capacity, operated by Biman Bangladesh Airlines, made its final flight on February 24.

    There's a reason why the DC-10 isn't used anymore.

    Explosive Decompression [wikipedia.org] sucks in an airplane:

    The DC-10 was designed with cargo doors that opened outward instead of conventional inward-opening "plug-type" doors. Using outward-opening doors allowed the DC-10's cargo area to be completely filled since the door was not occupying usable space. To secure the door against the outward force from the pressurization of the fuselage at high altitudes, outward-opening doors must use heavy locking mechanisms. In the event of a door lock malfunction, there is great potential for explosive decompression.

    Now, when you're using it as a water bomber, you're never going to pressurize the cabin, and you've likely made some other major changes.

    I'm glad they've managed to take these old DC-10's and make them do something useful .. they're a pretty cool plane and a piece of aviation history, but that unfortunate defect in the cargo doors made them not really safe to fly in.

    But it sounds like it's getting a new lease on life. I wonder just how many of them they'll be able to cobble together .. it's not like they make spare parts for them.

    • Hmmm .... (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I see at least 50 a night here in Memphis. DC-10s and their big brother MD-11s are one of the backbones of FedEx.

      • I see at least 50 a night here in Memphis. DC-10s and their big brother MD-11s are one of the backbones of FedEx.

        Cool, I had assumed they'd all pretty much gone out of service by now.

        Thanks.

    • Re:Hmmm .... (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 17, 2014 @09:03AM (#47925889)

      one incident occured because it was possible to close the door and make it appear fully seated and locked without it actually being so. after it was redesigned it was no longer possible to do so. they also added vents between the cargo and passenger holds, to allow the air pressure to equalize (you see them on almost all airliners now). they fixed that problem. engineering wise, the problem was fixed and it was deemed safe*. what they couldnt fix was ground personel. who would ignore the safety indicator indicating that the door wasnt fully seated and properly locked. i know we talk about idiot proofing, but ground personel are responsible for several things that can crash a bird if done improperly. we trust them everyday.

      but generally, once it was fixed, the DC-10 was considered safe and airworthy, even if the public perception wasnt so trusting of it.

      and if you really want to feel safe, dont think about how they work long high tempo hours outdoors for an average of 9 bucks an hour (typical low wage physical labor job).

      __
      (*if you really want to get into it, explosive decompression is generally not even a concern on aircraft, partly because of the DC-10 (if it hadnt beent eh DC-10, another plane would have eventually taught engineers the same lessons), being more of a hollywood thing (people getting sucked out windows, planes dinintergrating, etc.....).

      I dont know when air vents between the two halves of the pressure vessel became common (they are now though, because of this...), but at the time the DC-10 did not have them. so if one half decompressed, and the other is still airtight, but the floor/ceiling seperating them isnt designed to contain the prssure...it buckles. because of how the DC-10 was structurally designed, what would happen is, if the cargo hold decompresses it was possible for the floor seperating the hold from the passenger cabin to buckle, because the floor acted as an air tight membrane. this buckling would cause damage to the control system running the length of the fuseleage, because of where the control system component were located as they traveled the length of the plane. the end result was a loss of control, that would cause the crash. this problem was a potential problem on many aircraft, if they ever experienced decompression in either half of the pressure vessel.

      any of several things could have improved this: relocate the control components, improve/redesign the floor structural supports, and so on. Those options are really expensive, add weight, reduce capacity, etc.

      So on a large plane that needs two usable cargo holds to be profitable......air vents.
      Air vents allow the pressure to equalize between the two halves, so that if either half should lose pressure (for any reason...not just a door malfunction), the pressure can equalize, the floor doesnt buckle, the control system isnt impaired, and the plane remains flyable.)

      • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

        and if you really want to feel safe, dont think about how they work long high tempo hours outdoors for an average of 9 bucks an hour (typical low wage physical labor job).

        Pilots don't have it much better either - starting wages are only around $20K or so after graduating and spending easily twice that learning to fly. The "sweet life" is getting the six figure salary and left seat on heavy metal on routes that are convenient for you, but it can take 10-20 years to get that far, while for the most part, when

      • Dude my Father in Law is a mechanic for United. Saying the work is "high tempo" and $9/hour is bullshit. They are unionzed. He sleeps for 4-6 hours in the hanger daily and gets paid for it. He does work a lot of hours (60+ most weeks), but its because they pay him to sleep and he loves the overtime pay (he made over six figures last year). He volunteers for every extra shift he can to get.

        Father in Law also has zero interest in aircraft, other than saying what pieces of crap they are, and he is holding o
    • by SpzToid ( 869795 )

      That's a fascinating wikipedia article you cited. Off-topic, but I was impressed by the caption underneath the FedEx aircraft that reads, "FedEx became the first U.S. carrier to equip its aircraft with an anti-missile defense system in 2006. The gray oval Northrop Grumman Guardian pod can be seen on the belly of this FedEx MD-10 between and just aft of the main landing gear."

      Wow. If only Flight MH-17 had that stuff; really makes one think about airliners in 2014.

      • Re:Hmmm .... (Score:4, Informative)

        by devman ( 1163205 ) on Wednesday September 17, 2014 @09:55AM (#47926389)
        The guardian pod defends against shoulder launched rockets (MANPADS), they are usually guided by infrared targeting and pods defense mechanism jams this guidance system. The system is mainly designed to protect the plain during take-off and landing when the plane is most vulnerable to easily obtainable shoulder launched missiles. The missile that allegedly shot down MH17 was from a mobile SAM truck and would have been radar guided. A guardian pod would not have saved them.
    • Re:Hmmm .... (Score:4, Informative)

      by Alioth ( 221270 ) <no@spam> on Wednesday September 17, 2014 @09:31AM (#47926123) Journal

      That problem was fixed and is not the reason why the DC-10 isn't used any more. The DC-10 (and MD-11 followon, which is still in service) went on to fly millions of safe, reliable hours once the issue with the overcentre locks were fixed with the cargo doors.

      The DC-10 is out of (passenger) service now just because it's old and burns too much fuel. (It remains in cargo service, where it will be pressurized).

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Yes.
        After the initial design issues with the DC-10 were worked out, it went on to be a very safe plane statistically speaking compared to other planes. It was very unfortunate that it took several years of bureaucracy for all carriers in the US and the rest of world to finally acknowledge and fix the cargo door latch mechanism and add more floor vents.

        What brought an end to the DC-10? Just like stated, fuel efficiency for a passenger flight and ETOPS. Other more efficient 2 engine planes were being certi

      • I've certainly noticed that many aircraft continue to be used for freight long after passenger airlines have moved on to more efficient vehicles. Why is fuel consumption so much less important in freight operations?
    • Re:Hmmm .... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by petermgreen ( 876956 ) <plugwash@[ ]link.net ['p10' in gap]> on Wednesday September 17, 2014 @09:49AM (#47926311) Homepage

      Did you read the rest of that wikipedia article.

      Explosive decompression does suck but losing cargo space to inward opening doors also sucks. Afaict outward opening cargo doors are the norm on airliners*. Yes the DC-10 initially had a flawed locking design on the cargo doors and also had inadequate protection from hydralic failure of it's flight control systems and yes a couple of planeloads of people had to die before these issues were taken seriously but the overall safety record of the plane has been pretty normal compared to other planes of it's age.

      The 747 also had a cargo door failure incident, fortunately it only killed a handful of people.

      Afaict the main reason for retiring old airliners is not safety but economics, more modern planes tend to use less fuel per ton-mile and are also queiter (when airports are under noise restrictions quieter planes means more flights fit within the noise quota) and are easier to get spare parts for.

      * At least doing a google image search for various common airliners shows outward opening doors.

      • by _merlin ( 160982 )

        I fly on 737-800 all the time and they definitely have outward-opening cargo doors.

        • On the Internet, nobody knows if you're a dog?

          (Why do you know this?)

          • by _merlin ( 160982 )

            Because you can see the doors being operated out the windows of the departure lounges as the ground crew load and unload baggage.

      • Inward opening doors just make sense to engineers.

        Outward opening doors are the only rational answer when 35 people are pushing toward an exit in a panic.

        • And yet, emergency doors typically open inwards.

          • That's on older Boeing jets (the ones named after the noise their tires make when falling off and hitting the tarmac... )

            Airbus, and I believe the new Boeings, have outward opening emergency doors - they're heavier, harder to make right, require much more maintenance (look for double, triple, and thicker skins around Airbus doors the next time you board one...) but, if you're ever seated in the exit row when it really hits the fan, you want an outward opening door.

            • The ones that I've noticed (specifically speaking of over wing exits) had the hatch being removed inwards, and then being dumped on the wing. But I don't fly a lot, and I don't recall what models I was in.

              BTW, the new Boeing does have an outward opening door, apparently a sort of a gull wing action that lifts the door up and over the exit, out of the way.

              • Wing exits on the new 737s may still be in and out... I fly enough Southwest sitting in the exit rows, I should know, but the place the people really crush to is the "pilot's doors" - my Aunt was a stewardess for 30 years, she was on a 747 that had tires blowout and they deployed the slides for evacuation - no fire, no belly landing, no biggie, just some flat tires and a decision to use the slides instead of waiting for stairs to arrive... most people kept their cool, but two things were memorable: 1) the p

      • Outward-opening cargo doors are standard on airliners nowadays, the 747 was the first to have them.

    • Re:Hmmm .... (Score:5, Informative)

      by CohibaVancouver ( 864662 ) on Wednesday September 17, 2014 @09:59AM (#47926427)

      There's a reason why the DC-10 isn't used anymore.

      Explosive Decompression

      Incorrect. DC-10s were perfectly safe aircraft that flew millions of miles. They weren't explosively decompressing left right and center.

      DC-10s aren't flying passengers any more because they don't have the efficiency of modern airliners like the 787. They're heavier, have more drag, and burn more fuel - Particularly due to the their three engines.

      FedEx still operates a whack of 'em hauling cargo.

      • "The three-engine DC-10 entered service in 1970 as a passenger jet, and the last airplane working in that capacity, operated by Biman Bangladesh Airlines..."

        Did anyone bother to check on World Airlines, which only flies passenger charter flights for the U.S. Military, and (mostly) flies in and out of military air bases? Before I left the Army a few years ago, I had the (dis)pleasure of riding their sketchy DC-10's and MD-11's several times. Also, neither of the two planes can cross the Pacific Ocean (Cali
        • Did anyone bother to check on World Airlines

          In the last 30 years, World Airways has had one incident, and that was due to pilot error, not issues with the DC-10 itself.

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/W... [wikipedia.org]

          there is always a refueling stop at Anchorage or Honolulu.

          Yes, and when Canadian Airlines crossed the Pacific with their DC-10s in the 70s, 80s & 90s they used to stop in Hawaii for fuel.

          This is one of the reasons these airframes have been retired.

          • Well I suppose in-flight engine fires don't count, if no one dies...

            I had a large group of buddies who got a "free week" in Japan in late August or early September 2000 (I don't remember precisely when) following an engine fire as they were flying back from Korea to California. As they were Reservists whose "2 weeks of training" already ended up being 3 weeks (before the incident), their civilian employers were none too happy! My flight was a fewdays later on a normal commercial airline, and I actually be
      • Yeah, the DC-10's fatal accident rate [airsafe.com] isn't appreciably different from other planes of its era. It's a safe aircraft. It only picked up the reputation of being unsafe because of a grouping of accidents (two of which were MD's fault because of the cargo door problem), which sealed public opinion against it. Kinda like Malaysia Airlines' reputation has taken a permanent hit after the enormous publicity surrounding the loss of two of its airliners within 4 months of each other.

        A300 = 0.61 fatal accidents
    • Explosive Decompression [wikipedia.org] sucks in an airplane

      No, it actually blows out an airplane - see: the Hawaii effect, metal fatigue. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A... [wikipedia.org]

    • They fixed that little problem long ago. They flew for many years with the modified doors and hydraulic system.

    • According to him, the rear engine placed in the middle of tail fin is a bad design. The engine vibration puts too much stress on that fin. The metal weakens after a while. Compare this design to the design of the 727.

      I think, some time ago, this design was causing problems.

      • by pigiron ( 104729 )

        A problem the much safer Lockheed L-1011 solved by only putting the air intake on the leading edge of the rear stabilizer and putting the third engine down in the fuselage and more in-plane with the two wing engines.

        The DC-10's name was changed to the MD-11 in order to distance itself from the hugely bad reputation the DC-10 had earned.

        The safety statistics quoted above are bogus as they count a single death the same as this infamous one of Flight 191 which killed everyone on board when an engine fell off t

        • by mendax ( 114116 )

          But the Flight 191 incident is due to American Airlines maintenance crew not following McDonnell-Douglas's procedures in removing an engine, using a forklift to aid in remounting it and in the process damaging the mounting bolts. It had nothing to do with the design of the plane. The DC-10 had a couple problems due to design problems, these were fixed, and it became a very safe airliner. If you look at the early history of the Boeing 707 or the DC-8 you will see that these planes were much scarier.

    • by mpe ( 36238 )
      Now, when you're using it as a water bomber, you're never going to pressurize the cabin, and you've likely made some other major changes.

      But you will put a different set of stresses on the airframe through dumping the cargo.
    • Yeah, that issue was SOOOO 30 years ago.
    • by mjwx ( 966435 )

      I'm glad they've managed to take these old DC-10's and make them do something useful .. they're a pretty cool plane and a piece of aviation history, but that unfortunate defect in the cargo doors made them not really safe to fly in.

      Thats kind of like saying it's a shame the DeHavilland Comet is not still flying. All things have their time.

      However the DC10 is still in service with cargo carriers (notably fed-ex). Trijets are from a time where we didn't trust twinjets to make long flights. Since the A330 and B777 (two of the safest airliners in existence) and ETOPS 180 they've been completely redundant.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    >in 2006, the first fire-fighting DC-10 was unleashed on the Sawtooth fire in San Bernardino County, California.

    8 years ago.

  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna ( 970587 ) on Wednesday September 17, 2014 @08:29AM (#47925711) Journal
    Fundamental problem with DC-10 was the poor management. They made a stupid decision to make the cargo door open outward. Designed a complex locking arrangment using pins to be done by the cargo handlers. If not properly locked, the door flies off. The passenger door floor buckled when that happened. Very first time it happened the engineering team gave a very clean way to fix the issue. Pressure relief holes between passenger and cargo compartment, better locking pins.

    But the management persuaded FAA not to issue a "must fix it" notice to avoid bad publicity. Gentleman's agreement between McDonnel-Douglas chief and chief of FAA. Never followed through. Happened again, law suits followed, all the dirty laundry got aired and they never recovered from that.

    Added to that the airlines were using some home grown procedure to dismount and remount engines. Recommended process called for removing some 198 bolts. Airliners detached three loading pins on the pylon. In the process damaged the pylon. They had the engine on a fork lift truck while someone shouted directions trying to slide in the loading pin. The mistake was by the airlines. DC-10 paid the price for it. It got a reputation for being a badly designed unsafe aircraft. Only third world airlines like Biman Bangladesh would even touch them.

    Good plane, killed by the same stupid management that killed US Auto industry too. At least in the case of US auto they were actively aided and abetted by the unions. But McDonnel-Douglas was just self inflicted wounds. The third player Lockheed (L-1011 tristar) survived on military cargo plane contracts.

    • Yeah, designing for safety also means designing against lazy behaviors by end users that compromise security. If the approved way is to remove 198 bolts, and the stupid, wrong, but seemingly possible way to do it is to remove three pins, well people will do it the stupid way.

    • by Alioth ( 221270 )

      I flew many miles on DC-10s owned by American airlines well into the late 1990s. They were pretty common in the US (as was their followup, the MD-11). They weren't just in the 3rd world.

    • by Kagato ( 116051 )

      Huh? Northwest Airlines flew them until 2007. What killed the plane for commercial service is the same thing that killed every other tri-jet. Third Engine meant higher costs both in terms of fuel and maintenance. On the other hand cargo airlines love the tri and quad jets because of the high MOTW and ALR ratings, plus they can buy them for a song in the secondary market.

      • by mpe ( 36238 )
        What killed the plane for commercial service is the same thing that killed every other tri-jet. Third Engine meant higher costs both in terms of fuel and maintenance.

        There's also the costs of requiring 3 cockpit crew. Unless converted to an MD-10.
    • Last DC-10 I flew on had a horrible vibration in the port side engine... not the plane's fault, I blame Delta, and thank my lucky stars that I made it from Miami to Atlanta without something serious happening on the left wing.

      • by Kagato ( 116051 )

        Was it an actual DC-10?

        Delta operated the DC-10 twice, once on lease from United before the L-1011s could be delivered (retired in 77), and again when Delta acquired Western Airlines in 1987 (Retired a couple years later in 1989). They did keep the Lockhead L-1011s Tristars into the 2000s and they are often confused for the DC-10.

    • Good plane, killed by the same stupid management that killed US Auto industry too. At least in the case of US auto they were actively aided and abetted by the unions. But McDonnel-Douglas was just self inflicted wounds. The third player Lockheed (L-1011 tristar) survived on military cargo plane contracts.

      I had a brief internship at Lockheed where I worked under one of the managers who worked on the L-1011 project. According to him, both the DC-10 and L-1011 were good planes (though of course the L-1011 wa

    • by mpe ( 36238 )
      Fundamental problem with DC-10 was the poor management. They made a stupid decision to make the cargo door open outward. Designed a complex locking arrangment using pins to be done by the cargo handlers. If not properly locked, the door flies off.

      Outward opening cargo doors are common on widebodied aircraft. N4713U, performing flight UA 811, was a 741. Even though the locking mechanism used by Douglas was different from that of Boeing both contained design flaws.

      Added to that the airlines were using som
  • Pretty much any cheap plane will work fine. I believe I recall a 74 being used a few years ago (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evergreen_747_Supertanker [wikipedia.org]), and C130s are very common in this service.

    Once you've done this with it, though, you'll probably never see it back in commercial passenger use, anywhere. Dumping 48000kg while in the middle of a dive puts some serious stress on the airframe (YouTube, not for the faint of heart) [youtube.com].

    • I think these planes have used up their allowed number of pressurization cycles anyway, before they are converted.

      At some point in the future someone will probably make good money converting old airliners into drones, which will make them cheaper to fly and solve the problem of pilots dying if the airframe gives in during flight.

  • Its not like those amphibian Canadair planes that can just land on a lake or the sea, scoop up a load of water and take off back to fight a fire. It porobably takes a while to fill it up with water.

    • by LWATCDR ( 28044 )

      That works great where you have a lake near the fire. ALso they really avoid using sea water. Salt water can cause issues. The planes are designed to do it but it is avoided when possible. Not only that but dumping salt water on the land in the west is also not the best thing for post fire recovery.

      • by cvdwl ( 642180 )
        I live on the west coast of Italy; they do ocean refilling all the time here, as there are very few lakes. Remember that these are seaplanes; some corrosion resistance is built into the design. Also, they don't really land so much as just skim the surface for a kilometer or so, still holding a pretty good speed. I believe some also carry tanks of concentrated retardant to mix with the water.
        • by LWATCDR ( 28044 )

          But In Idaho, Colorado, Montana, Wyoming, and even parts of Washington, Oregon, and California lakes and the sea can be a good distance from the fires or rare.
          Also in the western parts of the US salt in the soil is a real issue.
          Like I said, they can scoop on the sea but they prefer to use lakes. They have to spend a lot of time and fresh water to wash down after they scoop from a salt water source.
          Of course in the Med you also tend to have calmer sea states than the west coast of the US.

    • by markana ( 152984 )

      Yeah, but the intakes on the scooper planes keep getting plugged up with scuba divers... :-)

  • While many plane enthusiasts lamented the exit of the DC-10 from passenger service, I did not.

    That aircraft had an awful, awful 2-5-2 seat arrangement in economy. More often than not I ended up in the middle seat of that set of 5 and had to crawl over 2 people if I wanted to use the toilet in the middle of the night, and didn't get the compensation of a view out the window which at least makes up for it in aircraft with the 3-4-3 configuration). Inevitably, it would be a parent and a very noisy child occupy

    • That aircraft had an awful, awful 2-5-2 seat arrangement in economy

      So to be clear, it's more awful to have 1 out of every 9 people have to pass two people if they want to use the bathroom than to have 2 out of every 6? Because that's typical economy seating plans are 3-3.

      • Because that's typical economy seating plans are 3-3.

        Not two-aisle heavies like the DC-10.

        Most of those are either 2-3-2, 2-4-2 or 3-3-3.

    • by mjwx ( 966435 )

      While many plane enthusiasts lamented the exit of the DC-10 from passenger service, I did not.

      That aircraft had an awful, awful 2-5-2 seat arrangement in economy. More often than not I ended up in the middle seat of that set of 5 and had to crawl over 2 people if I wanted to use the toilet in the middle of the night, and didn't get the compensation of a view out the window which at least makes up for it in aircraft with the 3-4-3 configuration). Inevitably, it would be a parent and a very noisy child occupying BOTH sides.

      Good riddance, DC-10. You won't be missed.

      A lot of B777's have the same configuration. The alternative used by a few airlines are 3-3-3. This is one of the reasons I prefer A330's over the B777, the A330 is usually in a 2-4-2 configuration unless you're flying a budget (or crappy) airline where they'll have 3-3-3.

      Budget airlines are pushing for 10 on B787 and 11 abreast on the A380 lower deck.

  • Could they encapsulate the retardant or water into some kind of non-flammable shell that would break open on impact? Sort of like giant water balloons or paintballs.

    If so, they could repurpose some of the parked B-52s into "water bombers". It's not clear to my quickie referencing if this would be a net improvement in payload but it might be an improvement in payload delivery flexibility if you could choose to unload a partial load or make multiple passes. It looks like the DC10 has to dump the entire pay

  • Well, at least they found a nice purpose for the plane. Sucks it had to end up that way, though. But hey, firefighters can't be so sorry, right?
  • KC-135 (Score:2, Insightful)

    They can carry jet fuel, too.
    • by Nimey ( 114278 )

      The tanker DC-10 is designated KC-10. The '135s are close to but not quite the Boeing 707; they're closer to being a derivative of the Dash-80 prototype that became the 707.

    • You mean KC-10. [wikipedia.org] The KC-135 platform is based on the ancient Boeing Dash 80 airliner prototype [wikipedia.org], the forebear of the 707.

      The US Air Force is contemplating retiring the KC-10 as it takes on the new KC-46 [wikipedia.org] (tankerized cargo Boeing 767) so that they can continue to maintain only two tanker types in the fleet.

  • A DC-10 Passenger Plane Is Perfect At Fighting Wildfires

    It's not 'perfect.' Unlike water bombers like the Martin Mars ( http://www.martinmars.com/ [martinmars.com] ) the DC-10 can't 'scoop' water from a lake. It needs to land and be refilled, which limits the amount it can drop.

    • The Martin Mars can drop 600 gallons compared to the 12,000 gallons of the DC-10. It can do in one run what it would take a Martin Mars twenty runs to do. The article says the plane can travel from where it's based to most of it area it could respond to in just 45 minutes. Give another 45 minutes to return to its home base and say 5 minutes for the dump itself and you're look at 95 minutes RTT. If they can refill it in just 15 minutes that puts it at 110 minutes total time. Ignoring travel time to the site

      • The Martin Mars can drop 600 gallons compared to the 12,000 gallons of the DC-10.

        No, it carries 600 gallons of foam concentrate alone - it scoops up 7,200 gallons [martinmars.com] of water each time, and can make a pass every fifteen minutes. I think this throws your comparison off by a wee bit . . .

  • by wired_parrot ( 768394 ) on Wednesday September 17, 2014 @10:46AM (#47926921)

    But some designs defy obsolescence

    This isn't about obsolescence or a design that stands the test of time. This is about simple economics. The main reason airliners phase out old airplanes is that their operating costs are too high - their older engines are too fuel consuming compared to newer designs, and may not meet newer noise regulations for most commercial airports. Maintenance also becomes difficult to source with no new spare parts being produced.

    Fire fighting aircraft fly under a different set of economics. They fly short flights, and only seasonally, so their fuel expenses are a smaller proportion of their expenses. They don't have to worry about noise regulations, because they don't fly out of commercial airports. And an older model that was produced in large volumes like the DC-10 means there is a large source of cheap junkyard parts to maintain these aircraft.

    This isn't about the DC-10 being a good or bad design - it's just simple economics. What's expensive for a commercial airliner can be economical for a fire-fighting operation.

    • What's expensive for a commercial airliner can be economical for a fire-fighting operation.

      ...or cargo operations, which is where you still see a lot of these older birds.

    • There may be some safety concerns with using "junkyard parts" (or not), but if so, they aren't as important when a vehicle carries two orders of magnitude fewer people.

      Now to await 2 or 3 angry responses from people who totally missed the point, because they lose their ability to think clearly when lives are on the line.

  • by ConfusedVorlon ( 657247 ) on Wednesday September 17, 2014 @11:47AM (#47927527) Homepage

    They're also great for jumping out of. The outward opening rear ramp is a lot of fun.

    Sadly, the Perris Valley Skydiving DC10 is currently out of service...

  • This is an amazing water bomber. It drops from so high, the water just mists down like light rain.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E... [wikipedia.org]

    Because it is a pressurized system, they can control how much they dump where.

    For example, maybe they do 4 drops from 1 tank load, 25% on each drop in 4 different locations

    Yes, I am a wildland firefighter, I have been on fires where these planes were working
    (Engineboss, Strike Team Leader in Training)

  • I can hear the screams from the obsessively outraged already.....

    "The summary and article are completely unacceptable in this day and age, and are totally politically incorrect.
    You cannot call it "Fire Retardant", that is a grave insult and a huge slap in the face for all intellectually disabled people the world over.
    You should be calling it Oxidation-Challenged-Fire Control Liquid"

  • We have been putting out forest fires for so long, there is so much of fuel accumulated in the brush. It is extremely expensive to fly in water to fight these fires.

    It is high time the Government declares regions of the country where people live at their own risk. Why should the general tax payer at large should bear the burden of saving the tails of all these people who insist on living areas unfit for human occupation. You want to live there, create your own underground fire proof chambers, may build a

  • What a pity it's early life was marred by accidents - a grand old bird.

"You stay here, Audrey -- this is between me and the vegetable!" -- Seymour, from _Little Shop Of Horrors_

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