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The A400M aircraft equipped with the new kit tests out the water-dropping capabilities, Source: AIRBUS SAU 2022 - Adrián Molinos - Mango

Airbus invention can quickly convert airplanes into firefighting aircraft

Airbus invention can quickly convert airplanes into firefighting aircraft

The development of the new technology comes at a very urgent time with wildfires becoming more and more frequent and severe

First come the heatwaves, then the wildfires roll in. This apocalyptic scenario is already a recurring reality every summer in Europe and there is a shortage of special firefighting airplanes to do the work.

As a response to that emergency, Airbus informed yesterday that they have developed a removable firefighting demonstrator kit. The latter can quickly transform a military transport airplane into an aircraft that puts out fires.

The new technology was tested out in Spain in collaboration with the Spanish Air Force and the Ministry for Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenge (MITECO).

No modifications to aircraft required

According to Euronews, currently, the most used firefighting aircraft are those produced by Canadair. They are specially designed for that kind of work and can scoop water from water bodies, such as lakes.

The Airbus solution cannot do that, however, it holds another advantage. Installed in A400M military transport airplanes, the kit can hold up to 20 tonnes of water, which is more than three times the capacity of the Canadair aircraft. And all that liquid can be dropped in less than 10 seconds.

The kit is a roll-on/roll-off type (RORO) and requires no modifications to the aircraft.

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 Schoellhorn, CEO of Airbus Defence and Space, in a press release.

Due to its low-level flight capability and manoeuvrability at low speeds, the A400M can accurately drop payloads of water at very low heights, down to 50 metres. In the future, in addition to the development of the production version of this kit, Airbus will analyze this operation also in night-time conditions, reinforcing the efficiency and effectiveness of the mission.

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