The Embraer C-390 Millennium transport aircraft successfully completed water bomber tests for firefighting missions.
The test was performed with the support of the Brazilian Air Force and the Brazilian Industrial Fostering and Coordination Institute (IFI), the regulator in charge of certifying the country’s aerospace products for the military. It took place at the Embraer Unidade Gavião Peixoto Airport near Sao Paulo, Brazil.
“The conclusion of these tests, which included several drops in flight, in addition to proving the system’s ability to integrate with the aircraft, also demonstrates the excellent aspects of flight quality and maneuverability, which are extremely necessary for this type of operation at low speeds,” Embraer said in a statement.
The C-390 Millennium is a tactical transport aircraft that can also act as an inflight refueling tanker. Powered by two specially designed Pratt and Whitney V2500-E5 engines, it can carry 26 tons of cargo. It is the biggest aircraft produced in Latin America.
The aircraft was fitted with a Modular Airborne Firefighting System (MAFFS II), a plug-and-play conversion kit giving the capacity to drop up to 11,300 liters of water or fire retardant.
“Designed to interface with the Cargo Handling System (CHS), the MAFFS II can be quickly installed or removed from the aircraft’s cargo bay from its own trailer,” Embraer explained. “The firefighting system requires only electrical energy from the aircraft for its operation.”
The MAFFS II was initially developed for the C-130 Hercules transport aircraft flown by the US Forest Service.
In August 2019, two C-130 aircraft operated by the Brazilian Air Force were converted into water bombers using the same kit in order to assist the Military Firefighters Corps (Corpo de Bombeiros Militar) in fighting fires ravaging the Amazon rainforest.
A similar conversion kit was showcased by Airbus in July 2022 for the A400M military transport aircraft. The airlifter demonstrated its capacity to release 20 tons of water in less than 10 seconds.