Firefighters will one day be able to fight wildfires with assistance from a one-of-a-kind Boeing 757 aircraft capable of dropping 7,000 gallons of fire retardant.
ST Engineering announced last week and said the conversion of a Boeing 757 passenger aircraft into a tanker has never been done before.
"We are excited to be working with Galactic Holdings in this new endeavor of repurposing passenger aircraft into flying fire trucks," Jeffrey Lam, President of Commercial Aerospace at ST Engineering said in a statement. "In addition to breathing new life into otherwise retired aircraft, we are glad that we can tap our expertise in aircraft conversion to develop innovative solutions to be used in the crucial fight against forest and wildfires that are increasing in numbers in various hotspots across the world."
Once in service, the plane will be one of the larger tankers available but will fall short of the capacity of the DC-10 and the Boeing 747-400 Supertanker.
Galactic Holdings, the company behind the effort, said they plan to deploy the aircraft in 2024 and build a fleet of air tankers once its first plane is deemed airworthy.
ST Engineering said the Boeing aircraft will be more fuel-efficient and be more capable of deploying to remote locations than other air tankers.
Using an air tanker to battle a wildfire is a dangerous undertaking.
The Department of Agriculture reports since 1958, more than 130 crew members have died while operating these flying fire trucks.
Officials pegged many of the incidents on airworthiness failures.
A ST Engineering company spokesperson told FOX Weather safety will be a priority for the engineers on the Boeing 757 project, and they will be installing a specially designed system to monitor the plane’s structural integrity.
Each year wildfires burn an average of 7.5 million acres across the country, keeping the air tankers in high demand.