The test campaign, which was conducted during daylight hours with a minimum operating height of 150 feet (46m), flight speeds as low as 125 knots, involved water drops of up to 20 tons in less than 10 seconds. The campaign’s main objective is to validate the drop water quantity and time, as well as the ability of the A400M to carry out firefighting operations with the new kit.
The solution’s development and testing are being conducted in ‘close collaboration’ with the 43rd Group of the Spanish Air Force, the Ministry for Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenge (MITECO), and relevant European authorities for firefighting operations.
The A400M offers ‘low-level flight capability and maneuverability’
The prototype solution is a roll-on/roll-off kit which requires no modification to the A400M and can be installed in any aircraft of its type with minimal effort, with the aim of allowing for a rapid response to firefighting missions. It features a fixed tank in the cargo hold, which is retained by two independent doors connected to two flood pipes.
The A400M is viewed as having strong potential as a firefighting aircraft ‘due to its low-level flight capability and maneuverability at low speeds’. Airbus says that in addition to developing a production version of the solution, it will analyze the aircraft’s ability to operate in night-time conditions.
“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 Schoellhorn, CEO of Airbus Defence and Space.
Leonardo also unveiled a new modular roll-on/roll-off modular firefighting system for the C-27J Spartan New Generation cargo aircraft in May.