Kepplair Evolution aims to provide the European Union a Very Large Air Tanker able to intervene throughout the European territory in minimal time. With its multi-role configuration, applications are many: firefighting, medical evacuation, logistic support in case of natural disasters, and anti-spill for example. The use of such a device would have been particularly relevant during the fires in Reunion Island in 2011, where no large aircraft were able to intervene in less than two weeks. The emergence of mega-fires around the globe and the increase of areas with high fire risk will require the use of more effective firefighting tools.
The policy of gradually increasing the resources allocated to forest fires is less and less adapted to the current situation. Keith L. Waters, Ph.D., and Stephen S. Fuller, “The Impact of Utilizing Aerial Tankers in Fighting Forest Fires”, Ph.D. proves that the faster and more consequent the response, the more the magnitude of the fire is reduced in contrast to a late or undersized response exponentially increases the destruction
The Kepplair Evolution project, based on the modification of an long-haul flight , aims to unite the underlying forces of member states to fight and defend the idea of a European Civil Security. The feasibility of such projects is proven. There are Russian and American aircrafts engaged in firefighting with common characteristics, but which do not meet the same environmental problem.
The A310 our first choice was a perfect candidate until 2020
The Airbus A310 is a long haul airliner of over 200 seats. It can land and take off on a runway of 2,000 m, while its wide body design allows the installation of 31,000-liter tanks and can carry 35 tons of cargo. Airbus has developed a MRTT version that combines all the necessary configurations with the exception of the water bomber version.
The various configurations of the Kepplair Evolution Airbus A310
In order to meet the requirements of efficiency, flexibility and profitability, the Kepplair Evolution aircraft will be modified to be configurable “on demand” according to the tasks assigned to it. If the firefighting remains its primary objective, its KIOS release device is modular which allows to dismantle it to change configuration. The main deck can be used for transporting people, rescue team, cargo, or as a mobile hospital with stretchers and mobile blocks of operations. Configuration change times will be optimized according to the needs of the prescribers
« Passenger » Configuration
More than 200 passengers can be evacuated in this configuration.
The political neutrality and modularity of the Kepplair Evolution device makes it possible to respond effectively to the consequences of political conflicts (Arab Spring, tragedy of migrants in the Mediterranean), natural disasters (Tsunami 2011 or Irma in 2017) or pandemics (COVID 19)
« Cargo » Configuration
In full cargo configuration, more than 30 tons of materials, food, basic necessities and medicines can be transported to a disaster area.
The “Combi” version makes it possible to carry out specific health repatriation operations or to transport rescue teams with their equipment.
« Medevac » Configuration
When the aircraft is configured as a “mobile hospital”, emergency physicians have up to 38 standard stretchers or 20 “Contagious Disease” stretchers at their disposal
Towards a new generation of airliner.
In 2019, our discussions with Airbus led us to select a new aircraft for the project. Indeed, to our great regret, the imminent end of the technical support of the A310 makes obsolete this aircraft on which we based our strategy.
Quickly, the Airbus A330, whose MRTT version demonstrates the multi-role capabilities, imposed itself on us. Its pay load, its dimensions, its range, its fuel consumption allow to strengthen our future tool. Unfortunately, at that time, this solution presented two problems:
- The high price in the second-hand market
- The management of the drop with electric flight controls.
In 2020, the international situation completely changed the used aircraft market. The recession initiated by the COVID crisis and the “green” pressure that is accelerating the need to renew the global fleet with next-generation aircraft is causing a massive influx of 15-year-old aircraft into the market.
In 2021, a 15-year-old A330 is cheaper than a 30-year-old A310 in 2012. This new deal solved our problem related to the price of the plane.
Our concerns about electrical flight controls have been allayed through the work done to respond to the H2020 Green Deal. In partnership with CEREN and the test pilots of the Aérotec Concept design office, we have established a flight test program that will determine the best configuration for the drops. At least, during the drop, we can use the direct flight control law function that is reversible.
The Impact of Utilizing Aerial Tankers in Fighting Forest Fires By Keith L. Waters, Ph.D. & Stephen S. Fuller, Ph.D.