Archive for December, 2010

Leviathan gas well estimated at $45B

December 30, 2010
Photo: Albatros
Tamar drilling site (archives)  Photo: Albatros
Photo: Tal Shahar
Minister Landau (archives)  Photo: Tal Shahar

Leviathan gas well estimated at $45B

Reservoir located off of Haifa coast said to contain 453 billion cubic meters of natural gas, making it decade’s largest gas discovery

Tani Goldstein

Published: 12.29.10, 18:04 / Israel Business


The Leviathan exploration prospect, which is located northwest of the coast of Haifa, contains 80% more natural gas than the Tamar reservoir, which was previously considered Israel’s largest drilling site, a report released Wednesday by Delek Energy revealed.



Raising fish in the desert

December 29, 2010

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By David Shamah
December 26, 2010

With fewer fish in the sea with each passing year, Israel’s Grow Fish Anywhere has found a way to grow them in the desert.

Fish ponds

Biological filters and specially developed bacteria treat the water the fish are growing in, without wasting anything.

“There’s plenty of fish in the sea,” the old saying goes – but that’s not as true as it once was. In fact, says Dotan Bar-Noy, CEO of Israel’s GFA (Grow Fish Anywhere) Advanced Systems, there are fewer fish in the sea with each passing year. “Overfishing is a much bigger problem than people realize, and in a few years, many species of salt water fish are simply going to disappear if something isn’t done.”

Bar-Noy and 30 or so others – mostly engineers, marine biologists and other technical folk – have found a solution to the diminishing numbers of fish in the sea. Based on the work of Israeli scientist Dr. Yossi Tal and Hebrew University professor Jaap van Rijn – inventor of the system – GFA has developed an on-land environment where fish can be raised, without having to exchange water or treat it chemically.

“We call this a zero-discharge system,” Bar-Noy tells ISRAEL21c. “We use biological filters and specially developed bacteria to treat the water the fish are growing in, without wasting anything. The system can be set up to raise salt-water fish anywhere in the world – even in the desert, thousands of miles from the ocean,” he asserts.

Fish farms are nothing new. They’ve been around for years, enabling growers to set up controlled environments that can ensure a specific yield of fish, allowing them to guarantee delivery without worrying about dwindling supplies in the ocean, pollution, inclement weather, and other factors that are hard to control.

Fish farm foibles

Still, while they enhance the conservation of fish in the sea, fish farms have problems of their own – mostly due to the need to circulate the water in the pools and tanks where the fish are raised. Most fish farms are located adjacent to a body of water, and their waste-laden water is channeled into the sea, and replaced with “fresh” sea water.

While fish raised in captivity don’t produce an increased amount of waste, at sea it would be dissipated over a much wider area. The fish waste, with its nitrogen and other elements concentrated in a relatively small area, renders the water that it’s dumped into uninhabitable for fish.

As the tanks are generally located near the shore, in relatively shallow water, the wastewater tends to linger there. With the movement of the currents, nearby jurisdictions are liable to find a considerable number of fish floating belly-up in their bays and harbors, having been poisoned by the high concentration of nitrogen and nutrients in the wastewater dumped from the tanks.

Fish ponds

GFA’s New York purification plant opened in 2009 and is already supplying 100 tons of sea fish a year to the US market.

This problem is so serious that in some areas fish farms are banned, despite their being perhaps the only technologically feasible solution available to combat overfishing, says Bar-Noy. Alternative purification systems are based on electrical treatment systems which are expensive to install and run, and are not all that effective, he notes. “Even when they work, the electrical purification systems are too expensive, and fish produced with those systems will cost far more than fish from the sea.”

GFA is currently the only solution that eliminates the environmental problems associated with fish farming. Tanks are filled with water, then with fish – and added to the mix are microbes perfected by GFA to treat the nitrogen and organic waste byproducts of fish production, in the tank.

Water is only added to replace that which evaporates, and the fish can grow through their natural cycle and remain in the tank until they are ready for market. “It’s the most efficient fish growing system possible,” claims Bar-Noy, “There is no pollution, and there is no need to fish at sea. Just set up tanks with GFA technology anywhere in the world, and harvest the fish when you’re ready to go to market.”

Toward eliminating world hunger

Because the GFA system uses cheap and easy-to-produce bacteria to cleanse fish tanks, the costs for raising the fish are fully competitive with those for raising fish from the sea, or other farms, Bar-Noy points out. And tank-raised fish are uniformly tasty. “Fish from the sea are subject to the natural weather cycles of cold and heat, while farmed fish can be raised at a constant, ideal temperature. GFA fish have an even greater advantage, since the water they grow in is always fresh, making the fish taste better than fish from other sources.”

The system has already been set up in several locations in Israel, and the company runs a purification facility in upstate New York, which has been operating since 2009. The facility, the largest using GFA technology, produced about 100 tons of fish last year – mostly salt-water fish like sea bream, bass, tilapia, and others.

GFA is currently working on the third generation of its purification system. While the company was formed in 2008, its technology was developed over a 20-year period. “While the ideas were there for awhile, the only viable purification techniques were based on electrical devices. It was only with the rise of biotechnology techniques that we were able to develop the bacteria that enable us to do the purification cheaply,” Bar-Noy explains.

The resulting system allows for high-capacity fish production – as much as 100 kg of fish per cubic meter of water (220 pounds of fish per 35 cubic feet) – along with the ability to grow fish in any environment. Fish farms can be set up anywhere – including in large cities, where fish may be brought to market the same day they’re harvested, thus enabling growers to eliminate transportation time and costs.

After raising funds from several angels, GFA recently raised NIS 18 million (about $126,000) from Dutch private equity fund Linnaeus Capital Partners. The money will finance a number of projects, including expanding the New York facility and further refining the technology.

“As populations grow, more countries are looking to fish as sources of protein, but overfishing threatens to destroy that dream,” says Bar-Noy. “With our system, fish can be grown anywhere – even in the desert – with minimal environmental impact. This is about more than just growing fish,” he adds. “This could help feed millions.”


A moment of Glee for Israel

December 29, 2010

A moment of Glee for ISRAEL21c Bookmark and Share

By Nicky Blackburn
December 13, 2010

A robotic exoskeleton designed in Israel to help paraplegics walk and climb stairs alone, has become the unexpected star of Glee, one of TV’s most popular programs.

When Artie Abrams, the disabled member of West McKinley High School’s Glee club gets up and walks on the program’s Christmas special with the aid of a robotic exoskeleton, there isn’t a dry eye in the house.

“It was invented by some guy in Israel,” says Artie, played by actor Kevin McHale, one of the popular TV show’s most endearing characters, a paraplegic teenager who knows how to belt out a great tune.

It’s a poignant moment for viewers who have watched Artie deal with the pressures of being wheelchair-bound in an able-bodied and deeply prejudiced society. But for Argo Medical Technologies, the Israeli company that created this unique technology that gives wheelchair users the opportunity to walk, climb stairs and meet the world eye to eye, the show, which aired in the US this week, marks a significant turning point in the company’s history.

Artie walks on Glee

Artie Abrams, played by actor Kevin McHale, steps out for the first time.

ISRAEL21c first wrote about Argo Medical in July 2008. It was the first time the company, then a seven-year-old start up, had been featured in the press, and the team behind the quasi-robotic exoskeleton which includes leg braces with motorized joints and motion sensors, a brace support suit and a backpack with a computer and battery, were interested to see what kind of response the device would get.

Standing in line for interviews

Little did they realize what they were in for. The ISRAEL21c story was quickly picked up by popular blogs like MedGadget, Gizmodo, and Engadget, as well as blogs serving the disabled community. Soon after Reuters followed up with a video of the device.

The story exploded on the world’s press, and was reported everywhere from Canada’s National Post, to Italy’s Corriere della Serra. Over 14 TV stations ran their own stories on the technology, from ABC News, to the BBC and CNN. The Israeli company even got coverage in the Teheran Times.

“It all started with ISRAEL21c,” says Uri Attir, who was the CEO of Argo Medical in 2008. “This was the first public exposure of Argo. The article gave way to four or five dozen articles and videos. It led the way to everyone standing in line, literally, to interview or film, or both.”

Since that first wave of interest, the company has been working hard to develop and test the technology with clinical trials at the Moss Rehabilitation Center in Philadelphia in the US and at the Rehabilitation Hospital at Chaim Sheba Medical Center – Tel Hashomer in Israel.

The 12-employee company has already received CE approval for Europe, and has FDA approval for use in rehabilitation centers. FDA approval for personal use is expected to follow soon.

An unexpected call from Glee

A month ago, according to Oren Tamari, Argo’s chief operating officer, the company got an unexpected call from the producers of Glee.

A week later the episode was filmed and on Tuesday of this week, American audiences saw Artie walk using the device, called ReWalk. “It’s Christmas magic,” Tamari tells ISRAEL21c. “They approached us and it all happened very fast.”

ReWalk goes on sale in January, and is expected to cost about $100,000. “We’re going to start sales very slowly, one customer at a time, so we can give everyone good service,” says Tamari.

In January, he says the company expects to sell four units, then will move up to six, and so on. “We will grow slowly, slowly,” he says.

Aside from enabling users to walk, using crutches for stability and support, the seven-pound device also treats some of the cardiovascular, digestive and circulatory health complications which many wheelchair users suffer.

Designed by a quadriplegic

The exoskeleton has a moving story of its own. It was the brainchild of an Israeli electrical engineer, Dr. Amit Goffer who was left quadriplegic after an accident. He decided to develop a system that allows wheelchair users to walk, climb stairs and meet the world on the same level.

After intensive rehabilitation, Goffer began developing the ReWalk prototype in his home, funding it privately and with a Tnufa – Startup Promotion Program grant. He later entered the Technion Incubator, TechnionSeed for a two-year stint and got financing from VC funds, Vitalife, ProSeed, TechnionSeed, the Technion R&D Foundation, and the Office of the Chief Scientist.

“What we want to do is have the person wake up in the morning, put on clothes, put on the ReWalk, go to work and go throughout the day, wearing it,” Goffer, the founder and director of Argo, told ISRAEL21c in 2008.

Now based in Yokneam in Israel’s north, the company’s target market is the community of wheelchair users in the Western world, of which 300,000 are spinal cord injury sufferers (125,000 in the US and 175,000 in ROW) who are physically able to use crutches as a stabilizing tool.

Mad About You star, mad about ReWalk

Aside from the massive press interest, the ReWalk has also attracted the interest of other Hollywood stars. In April 2009, Paul Reiser, the star of 1990s hit TV show Mad About You, saw ISRAEL21c’s article and was intrigued enough to follow it up with a visit to the company with his family.

While ReWalk holds out hope for thousands of people, sadly the man who devised the system still cannot benefit from his own invention. Goffer has partial use of his hands, but it is not enough to operate the ReWalk.

In his interview with ISRAEL21c in 2008, Goffer said: “This isn’t the first company I’ve founded. My incentive to develop it was a business opportunity. When I was injured the first thing I was offered was the only thing: a wheelchair. I do believe that in the future, in many cases, the ReWalk – or its competition – might be offered. I don’t see any reason for the wheelchair to be the sole solution. There hasn’t been a real change [in the technology] for centuries.

“We’re taking a safe business approach, starting with paraplegics, and the time for a quadriplegic like me will come,” he added.

Back at Glee, some attribute the generous present to Artie as a present from Beast, the high school football coach. Others are calling it a Christmas miracle.

Clinton a danger to Israel

December 27, 2010
Photo: AFP
Hillary Clinton  Photo: AFP

Clinton a danger to Israel

Op-ed: Hillary Clinton’s disregard for Arab desire to eliminate Israel delusional, evil

Moshe Dann

Published: 12.18.10, 18:03 / Israel Opinion


Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s address to the Saban Forum should leave little doubt that she is a danger to the State of Israel and, thereby, to the Jewish people. For those who care about Israel, her words, because she expresses the position of President Obama’s administration, are alarming.


Clinton’s speech was praised for not demanding a further settlement freeze; this was because US policy makers realized it would accomplish nothing, and PM Netanyahu had already agreed to stop, or severely limit building de facto. Instead, she emphasized state-building, “ending the occupation,” and borders. Coupled with international recognition of Palestinian statehood, this side-steps Israeli resistance to a freeze and insistence on Palestinian acceptance of Israel, further isolating Israel. What she did not say is worse.


Peace impasse: Israel at risk / Ron Ben-Yishai
Analysis: Vacuum in wake of stalled negotiations recipe for trouble; Israel must act quickly
Full Story

Not once did she mention official PA support, directly and indirectly, for incitement and terrorism. While passing on the usual gesture to America’s “commitment to Israel’s security,” her focus was elsewhere.


Blindly obedient to the notion of building a Palestinian state, she ignored the recent statement of Fatah, the PA’s ruling party in the West Bank: “No to Israel as a Jewish state, no to interim borders, no to land swaps.” And that’s only for openers.


She did mention how important it was to “ease the situation in Gaza,” and “foster legitimate economic growth.” Yet she forgot to mention the plight of Gilad Shalit.


Clinton’s focus was “the core issues of the conflict on borders and security; settlements, water, refugees; and on Jerusalem itself.” Her solution was “state-building work of the PA” and support for the Arab (Saudi) Peace Initiative – which grants the Palestinians a state based on the 1949 Armistice Lines, including Jerusalem’s division, and returning the Golan Heights to Syria. Israel gets “normal relations,” as long as that may last.


Clinton waves at “fundamental compromises,” but given her pro-Palestinian agenda, and her “two-state” axiom, this means Israel’s capitulation and surrender. Although she refers to “security arrangements” to prevent terrorism, she never spells out how that is possible; her vagueness is either lack of understanding, or ignorance. Even-handedly, she moves on to the issue of settlements: “we do not accept the legitimacy of continued settlement activity.”


On borders: “the occupation will be over.”


On Palestinian refugees: “a just and permanent solution.”


On Jerusalem: “the religious interests of people and all faiths around the world must be respected.”


“Palestinian state-building” inspires her: “The lack of peace and the occupation that began in 1967 continue to deprive the Palestinian people of dignity and self-determination. This is unacceptable, and ultimately, it too is unsustainable.”


She missed the fact that Jordan is a Palestinian state, carved out of the Palestine Mandate by Britain in 1922, with a population that is two-thirds Palestinian.


This is not, however, what makes Ms. Clinton, and those who think like her, so dangerous; it’s the notion of what the core issues really are.


If the dispute between Arabs and Israelis is territorial, it would have been resolved long ago. It’s not about the “occupation in 1967;” it’s about the Nakba (Catastrophe), as Arabs see it, the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948.


The problem is not the area that Israel occupies, but her existence. Enshrined in the charters of the PLO and Hamas, Palestinians don’t want a state alongside Israel, but one that replaces Israel. Not understanding this is delusional; not including this as a core issue is evil.


Evil is a harsh word, so here’s why I use it. Clinton, Obama’s Administration, and everyone else know that Israel cannot accept her agenda, since that would mean exposure to significant risks. Rejecting her efforts will create more tension, and serve to isolate and vilify Israel, while strengthening the forces of de-legitimization.


She chose her words carefully: “We hope to see a significant curtailment of incursions by Israeli troops into Palestinian areas.” What about the reasons for those incursions? What about the lives that will be saved by capturing terrorists before they attack? From her impressions, Israel is not only wrong, but wicked.


And Clinton knows – as experts have informed her – that the Palestinian security forces that “stood watchful guard” during her visits may easily turn into executioners. They have done little or nothing to protect Israelis, nor should that be expected.


PA “corruption and mismanagement,” billions in US funds wasted? No problem; “I was pleased to announce the transfer of an additional $150 million in direct assistance to the PA” – and to Hamas. That should soothe American workers on unemployment lines.


Clinton’s emphasis on “an independent, viable sovereign state,” may be misguided; but in her insistence that there is no other alternative, linking such a state with vital American interests, condemning “provocative (Israeli) announcements on east Jerusalem,” and blaming Israel for preventing peace, Madame Secretary has contributed to a global climate of anathema towards Israel.


She cannot say, “I was only following orders;” she gives them.


The Israel Ballet

December 27, 2010

“The Sleeping Beauty”

choreography by Berta Yampolsky


December 27, 2010
Click Here for “The Deli Song” :

Boycott Israel!

December 11, 2010


If you are among those who joined the boycott to Israel, you have surely forgotten these products. Let me remind you about them… – Stuxnet Worm Still Out of Control at Iran’s Nuclear Sites, Experts Say

December 10, 2010 – Stuxnet Worm Still Out of Control at Iran’s Nuclear Sites, Experts Say.


Stuxnet Worm Still Out of Control at Iran’s Nuclear Sites, Experts Say

By Ed Barnes

Published December 09, 2010


EXCLUSIVE: Iran’s nuclear program is still in chaos despite its leaders’ adamant claim that they have contained the computer worm that attacked their facilities, cybersecurity experts in the United States and Europe say.

The American and European experts say their security websites, which deal with the computer worm known as Stuxnet, continue to be swamped with traffic from Tehran and other places in the Islamic Republic, an indication that the worm continues to infect the computers at Iran’s two nuclear sites.

The Stuxnet worm, named after initials found in its code, is the most sophisticated cyberweapon ever created. Examination of the worm shows it was a cybermissile designed to penetrate advanced security systems. It was equipped with a warhead that targeted and took over the controls of the centrifuge systems at Iran’s uranium processing center in Natanz, and it had a second warhead that targeted the massive turbine at the nuclear reactor in Bashehr.

Stuxnet was designed to take over the control systems and evade detection, and it apparently was very successful. Last week President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, after months of denials, admitted that the worm had penetrated Iran’s nuclear sites, but he said it was detected and controlled.

The second part of that claim, experts say, doesn’t ring true.

Eric Byres, a computer expert who has studied the worm, said his site was hit with a surge in traffic from Iran, meaning that efforts to get the two nuclear plants to function normally have failed. The web traffic, he says, shows Iran still hasn’t come to grips with the complexity of the malware that appears to be still infecting the systems at both Bashehr and Natanz.

“The effort has been stunning,” Byres said. “Two years ago American users on my site outnumbered Iranians by 100 to 1. Today we are close to a majority of Iranian users.”

He said that while there may be some individual computer owners from Iran looking for information about the virus, it was unlikely that they were responsible for the vast majority of the inquiries because the worm targeted only the two nuclear sites and did no damage to the thousands of other computers it infiltrated.

At one of the larger American web companies offering advice on how to eliminate the worm, traffic from Iran has swamped that of its largest user: the United States.

“Our traffic from Iran has really spiked,” said a corporate officer who asked that neither he nor his company be named. “Iran now represents 14.9 percent of total traffic, surpassing the United States with a total of 12.1 percent. Given the different population sizes, that is a significant number.”

Perhaps more significantly, traffic from Tehran to the company’s site is now double that of New York City.

Ron Southworth, who runs the SCADA (the Supervisory Control and Data Access control system that the worm specifically targeted) list server, said that until two years ago he had clearly identified users from Iran, “but they all unsubscribed at about the same time.” Since the announcement of the Stuxnet malware, he said, he has seen a jump in users, but few openly from Iran. He suspects there is a cat-and-mouse game going on that involves hiding the e-mail addresses, but he said it was clear his site was being searched by a number of users who have gone to a great deal of effort to hide their country of origin.

Byres said there are a growing number of impostors signing on to Stuxnet security sites.

“I had one guy sign up who I knew and called him. He said it wasn’t his account. In another case a guy saying he was Israeli tried to sign up. He wasn’t.”

The implication, he says, is that such a massive effort is a sign of a coordinated effort.

Ralph Langner, the German expert who was among the first to study and raise alarms about Stuxnet, said he was not surprised by the development.

“The Iranians don’t have the depth of knowledge to handle the worm or understand its complexity,” he said, raising the possibility that they may never succeed in eliminating it.

“Here is their problem. They should throw out every personal computer involved with the nuclear program and start over, but they can’t do that. Moreover, they are completely dependent on outside companies for the construction and maintenance of their nuclear facilities. They should throw out their computers as well. But they can’t,“ he explained. “They will just continually re-infect themselves.”

“With the best of expertise and equipment it would take another year for the plants to function normally again because it is so hard to get the worm out. It even hides in the back-up systems. But they can’t do it,” he said.

And Iran’s anti-worm effort may have had another setback. In Tehran, men on motorcycles attacked two leading nuclear scientists on their way to work. Using magnetic bombs, the motorcyclists pulled alongside their cars and attached the devices.

One scientist was wounded and the other killed. Confirmed reports say that the murdered scientist was in charge of dealing with the Stuxnet virus at the nuclear plants.

U.S. Embassy told to monitor Israeli leaders, motives – Haaretz Daily Newspaper | Israel News

December 10, 2010

U.S. Embassy told to monitor Israeli leaders, motives – Haaretz Daily Newspaper | Israel News.


The U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv was asked to collect information about senior figures in Israel, and to assist in the gathering of information on key intelligence topics regarding military and political moves, national infrastructure and coded means of producing passports and government ID badges.

This secret task, among the WikiLeaks documents published yesterday, is included in a telegram from the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research, dated October 31, 2008 – a few days before U.S. President Barack Obama’s victory and about two months before Operation Cast Lead.

Following the American failure to locate weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, in 2005, the head of the CIA was put in charge of human intelligence for the entire intelligence community, and delegated that authority to the CIA’s secret operations wing. Giving the task of intelligence gathering to the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv could be perceived as proof of American spy operations in Israel.

The American agents were asked to supply information about Israeli plans for military operations against Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza and Lebanon and against Syrian or Lebanese targets, as well as Israel’s methods of fighting terror and the impact of reserve duty in the territories on Israel’s preparedness.

The American intelligence sources were also asked to report on how decisions on military operations, including retaliations against terror attacks, were made and approved. Information was also sought on Israeli contacts with Hamas and unofficial channels vis-a-vis the Palestinians, with or without permission from the Israeli leadership; positions of Israeli leaders, especially the prime minister (Ehud Olmert, at that time ) and his aides toward the United States, and on settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Other issues of interest included the possibility of development of natural gas deposts off the Gaza shore, prisoner exchanges, Israel’s interrogation methods of Palestinian prisoners and the emigration of Jews from Israel and their motives.

In another telegram, dated July 20, 2009, the head of the security department in the Defense Ministry, Amos Gilad, was quoted as telling participants in the American-Israeli strategic dialogue that he was unsure how much longer Egyptian President Mubarak would live and doubted the ability of Mubarak’s son to take over. Gilad also said the Egyptian army continued to train as if Israel was the only enemy, and that Egyptian-Israeli peace was tenuous.

Evergreen Supertanker: the world’s largest firefighting aircraft

December 10, 2010

Evergreen Supertanker: the world’s largest firefighting aircraft.

Evergreen Supertanker: the world’s largest firefighting aircraft

By Loz Blain

22:46 June 30, 2008

Evergreen's 747-based Supertanker: the largest firefighting aircraft in the world.

Evergreen’s 747-based Supertanker: the largest firefighting aircraft in the world.

Image Gallery (4 images)

July 1, 2008 As global temperatures slowly increase, a number of nations, including the USA, are finding themselves battling widespread droughts and huge, devastating wildfires that threaten properties, lives, infrastructure and ecosystems alike. Whatever the causes, new tools are clearly required to help subdue the massive bushfires that have destroyed an area the size of Oregon over the last 18 years. Aerial fire suppressant drops are sometimes the only way to effectively fight huge firefronts, and Evergreen’s new Boeing 747-based Supertanker promises to be the daddy of them all, carrying seven times more drop capacity than most dedicated firefighting aircraft. Evergreen expect the Supertanker to be a quicker, cheaper, safer and more effective aerial firefighting tool than anything else on the market – and its 747 base platform gives it the ability to operate throughout the USA and around the world wherever it’s needed.

Aerial attack is often the quickest and most effective response to a large wildfire front – fixed-wing planes or helicopters can dump water or fire retardant chemicals directly onto the advancing fire front in large volumes that dwarf the comparatively puny streams put out by a firetruck. But there’s never been an aerial firefighter as big as Evergreen’s Supertanker before.

Where the smaller planes and helicopters have carried around 1000 gallons, and the largest firefighting aircraft have carried as much as 12,000 gallons, the Evergreen has tank space for up to 24,000 gallons. The capacity is so large that Evergreen have devised a special system that allows multiple dumps on the one flight, where most firefighting planes simply drop all their fire suppressant at once.

Previous aircraft have tended to be WW2-era planes that have been modified to carry large volumes of liquid – and this approach has had its issues; many of the planes come right up to their maximum possible takeoff weight capacity when filled with water, making them difficult to handle and removing a degree of safety margin. Additionally, many of these older planes can’t land with full water tanks, meaning that if they don’t discharge their water at a fire zone they have to empty their tanks elsewhere before landing, wasting thousands of gallons of precious water in the process.

The Supertanker, on the other hand, will still be well inside both its takeoff AND landing carrying capacities even at full load.

This kind of jumbo aerial firefighting system has been very difficult to achieve in the past because of the low altitudes required for an effective drop when water is simply released from a plane. Jumbo jets like the 747 can’t safely pass at these altitudes, usually around 200 feet, and it’s a fairly dangerous exercise even in the older, smaller aircraft.

Evergreen addressed this problem with a high pressure delivery system that allows a wide range of drop speeds, from all-out maximum speed where an overwhelming attack is needed, right down to a lower setting that’s roughly the equivalent of heavy rain. The pressure system allows the Supertanker to make effective liquid deliveries from an altitude of between 400 and 800 feet.

The drop speed is around 140 knots, and the plane approaches the drop zone in exactly the same way as it would approach a landing zone, meaning that the drop stays comfortably within the 747’s speed and flight parameters.

The 747 platform, apart from delivering enormous carrying capacity, also gives the Supertanker an extraordinarily long range. This means that a single unit based in North America could service the entire country from its home base, provided refilling options and landing zones are available. It also means that in the US winter, the Supertanker could feasibly be deployed around the world – a possibility that Evergreen is definately investigating.

The international range of the Supertanker could also make it a viable platform for helping to contain oceanic oil spills or drop biochemical decontaminants on areas affected by chemical weapons or other hazards.

The supertanker is still currently in the development stage, and no costing is currently available, but Evergreen claim that the Supertanker’s massive carrying capacity coupled with the proven reliability of the 747 platform should help save millions of dollars, both in fire suppression costs and damage rehabilitation after major fires.