Safety key to tanker flights |

Safety key to tanker flights

The last time there were this many heavy tanker accidents in this short of time the federal government grounded all of the aircraft for a couple of fire seasons.

One fatal crash and another crashlanding within hours should be sufficient to raise the question of whether the big bombers should be retired.

There is no doubt that the big tankers are the most effective aerial means of extinguishing a wildfire in the wilderness.

A single run by a big tanker can dump nearly three times the fire retardant as a single engine air tanker. The smaller aircraft can work out of smaller bases, but it was good to see the big tanker working the fires we’ve had lately.

It would not be the first time that the tanker fleet was grounded in response to a crash.

In 2002, a series of crashes, including one near Coleville that killed a Minden tanker crew, resulted in the national grounding of the tanker fleet. It wasn’t until the summer of 2005 that the bombers were back up in the air.

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The safety of our firefighters comes first and grounding the tanker fleet may be the only responsible course of action. We’re looking at one of the worst fire seasons in 20 years, with two major fires before the beginning of summer.

Hopefully, the big tankers will continue to fly, safely, supporting our firefighters on the ground in their effort to protect our lives and property.

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