Electric Aircraft Fights FIres

| Aerospace Testing

Unmanned eVTOL aircraft carries four canisters to extinguish fires across up to 800 square metres per single pass

A specialist electric Vertical Take-Off and Landing (eVTOL) autonomous aircraft dedicated to extinguishing fires could make its debut during 2024.

A fully functional prototype is already undergoing testing with the goal of receiving Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) certification early during the year.

Based on the “CarryAll” eVTOL cargo aircraft manufactured by AutoFlight, the firefighting model has been adapted to the specific task of aerial fire combat to extinguish forest and other fires at high speed and with rapid deployment.

The aircraft has a maximum takeoff weight of two metric tons and is designed to lift a 400kg payload over a distance of up to 200km and can reach speeds in excess of 200kph. It can transport four high-performance fire-extinguishing canisters, each weighing 100kg, with the capacity to extinguish fires covering up to 200 square metres individually. This means that in a single payload, the four canisters can collectively extinguish fires spanning up to 800 square metres.

When considering the design of the new aircraft, AutoFlight examined the existing fire fighting unmanned aerial vehicles that are available and chose to make significant improvements in such important design aspects as load capacity, flight duration, fire coverage, flight efficiency and firefighting effectiveness.

With these parameters at the heart of the design, the company had the goal of demonstrating its performance as part of the flight tests and liaise with its development partners on ensuring that the aircraft had a viable role to play in fighting fires, including support systems and ground station for managing the flight. Initial tests gained encouraging feedback and the company is continuing its testing whilst refining the product design in anticipation of qualification, initially in China before seeking other international approvals.

The eVTOL is the latest development in a line of aviation innovations from AutoFlight, which uses artificial intelligence, low latency 5G communications technology, advanced materials and the latest innovations in manufacturing for the drone market to drive developments in the eVTOL industry.

The use of unmanned drones as a firefighting tool provides a safer means of tackling fires as they occur with speed and flexibility.

Jonathan Newell
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