Airbus successfully tests firefighting kit on A400M

LONDON – Airbus has successfully tested a removable firefighting demonstrator kit on the A400M new generation airlifter during a flight test campaign in Spain.

The test campaign took place in daylight conditions with a minimum operating height of 150ft, flight speeds as low as 125 knots, and drops involving up to 20 tonnes of water from the current tank in less than 10 seconds.

The main objective of the campaign is to validate the drop water quantity and time as well as the ability of the A400M to carry out this new role with the kit.

The development of this prototype and the tests have been carried out in close collaboration with the 43rd Group of the Spanish Air Force, as well as European authorities in Firefighting operations and the Ministry for Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenge (MITECO).

“The development of this firefighting kit is an intrinsic part of our journey towards helping to create a more sustainable and safer world, not only by our actions but also through our products.”

“We strongly believe the A400M can play a vital role in the fight against the ever-increasing threat posed by wildfires and support the restoration of social and environmental systems,” said Mike Schellhorn, CEO of Airbus Defence and Space.

RORO kit for A400M

The Airbus firefighting solution created for the A400M is a roll-on/roll-off (RORO) kit that requires no modification to the aircraft and therefore is interchangeable with any aircraft in the A400M fleet.

The water is stored in a fixed tank in the cargo hold, and retained by two independent doors.

These doors are connected to two flood pipes, so when the discharge is triggered, the water is expelled through two sections at the end of the ramp.

The introduction of this RORO solution allows a rapid reaction to unforeseen fires and reconfiguration of the aircraft to any of its other roles.

Due to its low-level flight capability and maneuverability at low speeds, the A400M can accurately drop payloads of water at very low heights, down to 150ft.

In the future, in addition to the development of the production version of this kit, Airbus will analyze this operation also in nighttime conditions, reinforcing the efficiency and effectiveness of the mission.

About A400M

The A400M “Atlas” is the most advanced, proven, and certified airlifter available, combining 21st-century state-of-the-art technologies to fulfill the current and upcoming armed forces’ needs.

The A400M combines the capability to carry strategic loads with the ability to deliver even into tactical locations with small and unprepared airstrips and can act as a frontline tanker. One aircraft that can do the work of three – is the A400M.

The A400M was launched in May 2003 to respond to the combined needs of seven European Nations regrouped within OCCAR (Belgium, France, Germany, Luxemburg, Spain, Turkey, and the UK), with Malaysia joining in 2005.

The A400M assembly takes place in Spain; the wings (largely designed with composite materials) are manufactured in the UK, while the fuselage is built in Germany.

With the cockpit flight deck located at the very front of the fuselage, much of the internal space is reserved for cargo; the aircraft’s internal dimensions include a cargo hold usable width of four meters/13 ft 1 in, the height of up to four meters/13 ft 1 in, and usable length of 17.7 meters/58 ft.

Designed from the outset to be a dual-role transport and tanker aircraft, the A400M provides air forces with a cost-effective way to acquire an air-to-air (AAR) refueling capability in addition to a versatile logistic and tactical airlifted.

The standard A400M aircraft has much of the equipment and software provisions for two-point air-to-air refueling operations already installed as standard.

Any A400M can be rapidly reconfigured to become a tactical two-point tanker able to refuel probe-equipped receivers at their preferred speeds and altitudes.

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Piotr Bozyk

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