We have seen many firefighting hardware here. There are rocket launchers and drones to fight high-rise fires, a jet engines-powered fire-fighting tank (yes, a tank!), and robotic firefighters – just to name a few. Now meet a firefighter that descends from the sky. I know. Dropping fire suppressant from up above is not new but the AutoFlight autonomous firefighting eVTOL is NOT designed to kill forest fires; it is a small fire-fighting aircraft that is designed to fight fire from above with precision.
eVTOL maker AutoFlight has unveiled a pioneering firefighting program, introducing a fully functional prototype designed for high-payload operations. With a remarkable maximum takeoff weight of two metric tons (MTOW) (4,409 lbs!), this model is engineered to lift a 400 kg (882 lbs) payload across distances of up to 200 km (124 miles) while reaching speeds exceeding 200 km/h (124 mph).
Equipped to transport four powerful fire-extinguishing canisters, each weighing 100 kg (220 lbs), this system demonstrates the capability to individually extinguish fires spanning up to 200 sq/m (2,153 sq/ft), totaling an impressive 800 sq/m (8,611 sq/ft) coverage in a single payload.
Leveraging AutoFlight’s cargo eVTOL platform, the firefighting model, built on the CarryAll base, anticipates Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) certification by early 2024.
Kellen Xie, Senior Vice President of Global Sales and Business Development at AutoFlight, highlighted the prototype’s groundbreaking advancements in load capacity, flight duration, coverage, efficiency, and firefighting effectiveness. Initial demonstrations garnered positive feedback, prompting discussions with potential clients and partners to evolve the prototype into a market-ready product, complete with ground station and support systems.
Mr. Xie also revealed plans for joint development opportunities, offering units for sale to firefighting organizations aiming for operational deployment in 2024.