Airbus A400M drops 20 tonnes of water in firefighting tests

Airbus Defence & Space announced on July 26 the success of test flight campaign in Spain with a removable firefighting kit onboard the A400M.

The flight tests occurred during the day with the aircraft flying at an altitude of 150ft. The aircraft managed to drop up to 20 tonnes of water in less than ten seconds whilst flying at a speed of 125 knots.

Airbus had an objective to prove the A400M could carry out a firefighting role with the removable kit and validate the water quantity and time it takes for the A400M to release water to a dedicated target area.

An Airbus A400M deploys water from its rear cargo ramp via the RORO firefighting kit
An Airbus A400M deploys water from its rear cargo ramp via the RORO firefighting kit Airbus

Development of this prototype has been in close conjunction with 43rd Group of the Spanish Air Force, as well as European authorities in firefighting operations. It is a roll on/roll off (RORO) kit, no modifications are required to the aircraft making it suitable to any A400M in any nations fleet.

The RORO kit works via a large water tank placed in the cargo area of the A400M, which is retained by two large doors. The doors containing the water are connected to two flood pipes, these pipes when activated cause the water to be triggered and expelled through the two sections at the rear end of the aircraft via the cargo ramp.

Mike Schoellhorn, CEO of Airbus Defence and Space, said: “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.”