World's largest water bomber pitched by U.S. firm

An aviation company from the United States was in Edmonton on Tuesday to show off what it calls the world's largest water bomber, in hopes of attracting attention from the Alberta government.

An aviation company from the United States was in Edmonton on Tuesday to show off what it calls the world's largest water bomber, in hopes of attracting attention from the Alberta government.

The supertanker from Evergreen International Aviation is a Boeing 747 that can carry 77,000 litres of water and travel at about 1,000 kilometres an hour. Company officials exhibited the plane in a demonstration at the Edmonton International Airport.

The plane contains 10 tanks for liquids like water and fire retardant. There are also eight air tanks that push the liquid out of the plane.

"It's a flying aerosol can, more or less, and that enables us to do a highly accurate drop and also do segmented drops. You don't have to drop it all at once — we can split it out over five or six different loads over several fires if need be," said Evergreen International's Jim Baynes.

The service costs $3 million a month during the fire season.

But the Alberta government isn't interested. Staff looked into the plane after they were contacted by Evergreen but decided it doesn't suit the province's current needs, said Anastasia Drummond, a spokesperson with the Sustainable Resource Development Ministry.

"First of all, the type and size of air tanker that would be needed. Currently our bases would not sustain an aircraft of that size," she said.

The province also attacks fires when they are newly detected and smaller in size, Drummond said. The province's smaller planes are more easily manoeuvrable through the foothills and mountainous areas in Alberta, she said.

The company is travelling to Alaska next and also hopes to talk to officials in B.C.