Airbus, one of the biggest names in the aircraft manufacturing industry, has recently tested its upcoming “removable firefighting demonstrator kit” for A400M aircraft. The manufacturer has dropped some impressive specifications to go with it and it encompasses more cargo capacity in its storage tank as compared to the C-130 Hercules. Primarily, the aircraft has been designed to eliminate horrendous wildfires in contingency situations. As we know, due to the rising temperatures around the globe, wildfires are becoming a commonality. Hence, in such situations, this type of aircraft, which can easily eradicate fires through its extraordinary capabilities, is the need of the hour.
Speaking of its specifications, the A400M has been designed in such a way that it can easily land on “rough landing strips” in the case of any emergency and is mainly used for military operations. It consists of four turboprop engines and an enormous cargo box that is about 58 feet long, 13 feet wide and has a payload capacity of about 40 tonnes. Not to mention, the aircraft conducted its first flight back in 2009, but these recent modifications come along with some interesting details from the bunch.
With the right number of kits, the aircraft can easily perform its operations regarding aerial refueling and medical evacuation. Also, the aircraft has the capability to fly at low altitudes, which makes it the best candidate for eradicating wildfires. According to Mike Schellhorn, who is the CEO of Airbus Defence and Space, “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 through 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.”
Coming towards the most important point, i.e., the testing of this kit. It has been reported that the incredible kit dropped a whopping 22 tonnes of water while flying at an altitude of 150 feet and a flight speed of 125 knots and that too, in less than 10 seconds. The test was being conducted in order to ensure and assess the operational efficiency of the “time and quantity of water drop,” as per the press release. Moreover, it should be important to note that the test was conducted in collaboration with the “43rd Group of the Spanish Air Force as well as authorities involved in the firefighting operations and the Ministry for Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenge (MITECO) in Spain.”
Last but not least, the working principle of the kit is based on a “Rolled-on-rolled-off (RORO)” case in which the water is conserved in a cargo hold which is fixed. The connection to the cargo hold would be made by the two flood pipes, which are further attached to separate two doors, and, in this way, water would come out of that cargo hold. This principle can be used on any of the A400M fleets “without any specific modifications,” according to the press release.