Home Technology Airbus A400M’s Roll-on/Roll-off Firefighting Kit Completes Successful 20,000-Liter Drop Campaign

Airbus A400M’s Roll-on/Roll-off Firefighting Kit Completes Successful 20,000-Liter Drop Campaign

Airbus Defence and Space has carried out a new flight-testing campaign for the A400M Roll-on/Roll-off firefighting prototype kit. Twenty thousand litres of retardant were dropped during this campaign, and high-concentration lines over 400 metres were created.

Over two weeks, the A400M conducted a ground and flight test campaign in Spain’s southwestern and central regions. The campaign consisted of six drops, three of which used red-coloured retardants and three used water.

According to Jean-Brice Dumont, Head of Military Air Systems at Airbus Defence and Space, Airbus has tested a new version of the kit, improving dropping efficiency and reducing discharge time by over thirty per cent compared to the previous year. Additionally, the kit has been paired with rapid deployment and easy installation on the A400M aircraft. 

A400M Firefighter Mk2
A400M Firefighter Mk2. Airbus Defence and Space SAU 2023 Adrian Molinos – Mango Producciones

A simple installation process

There is no need to modify the aircraft to install this roll-on/roll-off kit; as a result, it may be used with any aircraft that are part of the A400M fleet. A mechanical lever opens the door to enable the liquid to flow out of the aeroplane by gravity through a discharge pipe. The water or retardant is stored in a tank in the aircraft’s cargo hold. Given its current configuration, the prototype can discharge 20,000 litres in a single discharge.

The tanks may be filled with regular high-pressure pumps located on the ground in less than ten minutes. The ability of the A400M to take off and land on short runways that are not paved, as well as access to a diverse range of air bases and airfields, is one of its defining characteristics.

The 43rd Firefighting Squadron of the Spanish Air Force has been participating in the campaign as the technical advisor and has ensured that this capacity in the A400M has operational value for any potential operator. This effort has been carried out throughout the campaign.

A removable firefighting demonstrator kit was put through its initial round of testing by Airbus in July of 2022. As a result of its high-dropping capacity, high manoeuvrability with the most recent safety standards, day and night operation, and the potential to convert any regular A400M in any fleet into a firefighting aircraft at very short notice, the company concluded that the A400M firefighting kit offers additional capabilities that are not currently available on the market.



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