To date, two US Companies use Very Large Air Tankers: Global SuperTanker and 10 Tanker. At the request of the state of California in 2010, NASA* has analyzed this issue and published a report demonstrating the efficacy of using such devices in firefighting. However, these aircraft (DC10 and Boeing 747), are particularly suited to the geographical nature of the American terrain, as well as the strategic planning and policy of the United States (regarding army structure and local civil securities).
In Europe, the airport facilities are smaller (in number and size), and the terrain of the European region is an issue of adaptability for a very large air tanker.
Kepplair Evolution has selected the Airbus A310 as it can best respond to this situation. The advantages of the A310 are multiple. It can use the existing infrastructure – such as the airports located in Marseille or Ajaccio – as well as a number of pelicandromes**. Moreover, its traditional flight controls and compact size*** make it an exceedingly maneuverable aircraft that is chosen by several European states as the multi-role military reference. Airbus has notably developed an aerodynamics system allowing the aircraft to fly at low speeds as necessary for water drop operations. The presence of Airbus and its worldwide network of partners is a highly considerable asset for the aircraft monitoring and maintenance operations.
Evergreen SuperTanker and 10 Tanker modules are exclusively dedicated to aerial frefighting missions. This weakens business model as there are not so many fires outside peak season. Thanks to the aircraft modularity, Kepplair Evolution profitability is independent of fires occurrences every year.
* USFS Very Large Aerial Tanker Operational Test and Evaluation
** Water taker aircraft operating base with specific infrastructure allowing water/retardant quick refill
*** Length 46,5m, wingspan 44 m