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Fires: a French company wants to recycle airliners into water bombers -!

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FIGARO DEMAIN – The French company Kepplair Evolution aims to operate its first A 330 changed into a bomber by . Numerous fires have ravaged the south of France in recent days. If the intervention forces gradually manage to control them, concerns persist about the risk of these phenomena intensifying in the years to come. A new major tool could however join the arsenal of fight against these devastating fires: airliners A 330 transformed into water bombers. Read alsoFires: does France have enough water bombers? This idea is that of an airline pilot, David Joubert, who was inspired by initiatives developed in the United States. To carry out his project, the pilot joined forces with a professor from the Toulouse Institute of Fluid Mechanics, Dominique Lejeune. Once the company Kepplair Evolution was created, the two men invented a system for releasing retardants – liquids intended to limit the spread of fires – which could be installed in A 330 airliners. Patented in 2019, the Kios system provides dense and effective coverage to block the advance of the flames. “The interest of the project is not to replace existing firefighting equipment and modules but to provide additional assistance to public authorities” explains David Joubert. Implementation of the Kios release system on A 330 Kepplair EvolutionL’A 330, soon essential in the fight against fires? Airliners have specific characteristics that could prove to be decisive in the fight against forest fires. Their capacity first allows “to store more than 40. 000 liters of retardant in an aircraft – against a maximum of 10. 000 liters for French classic bombers – and to draw a fire blocking line of 500 meters long and 40 meters wide ”. Their speed also makes possible “a rapid deployment to the scene of fires all over Europe” and their flight characteristics would even make it possible to “send them all over the world, in the context of disasters like those experienced by Australia, out of the way. reached for existing bombers ”. Another advantage, the planes would not be limited to the dropping of products to fight against fires. “Seats will be set up to organize medical repatriations or the transport of European civil protection modules in the context of natural disasters”. “This multi-use will make the aircraft profitable throughout the year” assures the company. Read alsoDiscover the actors and initiatives of change David Joubert finally praises the economic merits of such a project: “A second-hand A 330 costs between 3 and 8 million euros to purchase, with a cost of transformation into a bomber ranging between 15 and 20 millions of euros ”. By way of comparison, “the six Dash 8 water bombers ordered by the public authorities cost 400 million euros, or 66 million euros per aircraft” indicates the entrepreneur. The A 330 which the companies wish to get rid of in order to modernize their fleet, will also be offered the opportunity of a second life. Contacted by Le Figaro, the General Directorate of Civil Security and Crisis Management, on which conventional water bombers depend, however expressed some reservations about the use of airliners to fight forest fires. These would seem “better suited to the fight against large established fires (California, Siberia type), without the presence of a ground component in contact with the fire” according to her. The DGSCGC also indicates that it is now favoring “airplanes with propeller engines, more suited to the geography of European operating areas”. The smaller Canadair CL 415 and DASH8 have, for example, a “capacity for rapid rotation between the fire and the refueling stations or scooping sites” specifies the DGSCGC. A European ambition Kepplair Evolution aims to be integrated into the rescUE European civil protection mechanism, by offering the European Union “long-term contracts or one-off contracts to respond to emergencies”. The company would oversee both the transformation of planes into bombers and their operation, offering fleet services to public authorities. The device could be used in less equipped countries like Greece, ravaged by flames at the beginning of August. The company, which already works with many European players such as Airbus, which has made an aircraft available to Kepplair Evolution to develop a prototype. Read alsoFires: can a burnt forest recover? While the transformation of aircraft into drop bombers is still in the planning stages, the company hopes “to be able to put a first aircraft into service by the time of the Olympic Games. , so that the fires do not spoil the party ”. In the longer term, David Joubert hopes to transform seven planes, three of which in the next five years. With the recent fires, interest in Kepplair Evolution aircraft is expected to grow. Source: www.lefigaro.fr

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