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LOS ANGELES COUNTY : Fire Crews Get OK to Test ‘Superscooper’ Plane

Los Angeles County fire crews were given the go-ahead Wednesday to carry out a 30-day test of the Canadian “Superscooper” water-dropping plane on Southern California wildfires.

Pilots of the aircraft, officially known as the Canadair Amphibian Air Tanker, can dump thousands of gallons of water on wildfires and then refill their tanks by landing on the ocean or a lake.

During last year’s disastrous wildfires, officials were criticized for passing up an opportunity to lease the planes. Some fire experts say the plane’s huge capacity and quick turnaround time could have made the difference at a number of hot spots along the fire lines.

The Board of Supervisors, in a unanimous vote, authorized the county Fire Department to negotiate an agreement with the province of Quebec to lease a Superscooper and hire the necessary ground and flight crews.

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The planes don’t come cheap. A month’s rent will cost nearly $250,000, not including the $515-per-hour cost of flying the giant plane.


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