March 5, 2024
Aviation Tech

Airbus test-flies A400M firefighter prototype kit

Prototype kit drops 20,000 litres of retardant in one go

Airbus Defence and Space has conducted a new flight test campaign of an A400M roll-on/roll-off firefighting prototype kit, dropping 20,000 litres of retardant and creating high-concentration lines over 400 metres long.

Over two weeks, an A400M four-engine turboprop military transport aircraft conducted a ground and flight test campaign in southwestern and central Spain, including six drops, three of which used red-coloured retardant and three used water.

Jean-Brice Dumont, Head of Military Air Systems at Airbus Defence and Space, said: “We have tested a new version of the kit, improving dropping efficiency and reducing discharge time by over 30% compared to last year, while combined with rapid deployment and easy installation on the A400M aircraft.

“We continue to pioneer new solutions and capabilities for our A400M fleet, in this case protecting populations and natural environments from fires.”

Watch the video:

The A400M roll-on/roll-off kit does not require any modification to the aircraft and, therefore, is interchangeable with any aircraft in the A400M fleet. The water or retardant is stored in a tank in the cargo hold of the aircraft, and by using a mechanical lever, a door is opened to allow the liquid to flow out of the plane by gravity through a discharge pipe.

The prototype’s current design can drop 20,000 litres in a single discharge. The tanks can be filled in less than 10 minutes using standard high-pressure pumps on the ground.

During the flight-test campaign, the 43rd Firefighting Squadron of the Spanish Air Force was involved as technical advisors, assuring that this capability in the A400M has operational value for any potential operator.

In July 2022, Airbus evaluated a removable firefighting demonstrator kit on the A400M for the first time and concluded that the A400M firefighting kit offers additional capabilities not available on the market thanks to its high-dropping capacity, high manoeuvrability with the latest safety standards, day and night operation and the potential to convert any regular A400M in any fleet to a firefighting aircraft at concise notice.

The A400M is characterised by its ability to take off and land on short and unpaved runways and a wide range of air bases and airfields.

Featured image: An A400M aircraft equipped with a roll-on/roll-off firefighting prototype kit conducts a flight test in Spain: Image: Airbus Defence and Space

    Middle East News 247

    Middle East News 247

    Middle East News 247 delivers trending business and lifestyle news and essential infotainment for, and from the Middle East region, with key focus on the GCC nations: United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, and Oman.
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