Here's why Martin Mars water bomber isn't in Fort McMurray
Sunday, May 8, 2016, 7:06 PM - The iconic Martin Mars aerial firefighting tanker has not been deployed to Fort McMurray to fight a fire that has forced the evacuation of 88,000 residents and now owner Wayne Coulson is facing public criticism.
Several people have turned to social media to express their frustration. Due to public interest, Coulson posted a response on Facebook.
"We understand the frustration of the public, especially in a case like this where a fire is consuming property and threatening lives," Coulson wrote.
FORT MCMURRAY FIRE COVERAGE:
- Latest fire updates
- The scramble to evacuate, in 19 terrifying videos
- Everything you need to know about the fires, here
According to the owner of Coulson Flying Tankers, there are three reasons why the 70-year-old plane isn't in Fort McMurray.
For starters, the Alberta government has not requested it. However, Coulson says the company has offered one of their C-130's that could be made available immediately.
"If there was a request by the Alberta government to contract the Martin Mars, we would do everything in our power to support the request," the Facebook post reads.
Moreover, it is not up to the firefighting business to decide who has operational control over the aircraft, it is the government, Coulson added.
"No aircraft operator in the world can simply go out and put out a fire, even if they wanted to and if someone ever did, they would be facing serious criminal charges."
Finally, the aircraft is undergoing its annual inspection.
"Based on the fact no government has any interest whatsoever in the aircraft fighting fire, we have decided to take the Mars to the Oshkosh Air Show in late July in hopes of finding another business or home for it, keeping it somewhat operational."
In 2013, the contract between British Columbia and Coulson Group to use the air tanker was ended. The province decided to use a smaller plane more fitting to the area's mountainous terrain.
The Martin Mars is a four-engined cargo transport seaplane originally designed and built in limited numbers for the U.S. Navy. It is the world's largest fixed-wing water bomber.
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