Embraer has successfully completed the fight test of the certification campaign for the Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System (MAFFS II), which provides the C-390 Millennium with the required capability to perform firefighting missions. The tests, carried out at the Embraer facility in Gavião Peixoto, São Paulo State, in Brazil, represent an important advancement in the certification campaign of this capacity by the Brazilian Military Certification Authority (IFI). After certification, the firefighting capability will be available to aircraft’s operators. The KC-390 can carry out a range of missions, including humanitarian support, medical evacuation (MEDEVAC), search and rescue, and aerial refuelling.
The Embraer C-390 Millennium is a medium-size, twin-engine, jet-powered military transport aircraft designed and produced by the Brazilian aerospace manufacturer Embraer. Its design permits flexible operations; both the internal and external configuration of the aircraft can be rapidly interchanged to accommodate different mission roles. When equipped with a roll-on-roll-off firefighting system, the C-390 MILLENNIUM is an important aerial resource for firefighters in battling wildfires, dropping water or fire retardants. The C-390 MILLENNIUM fly-by-wire provides outstanding maneuverability at low speed and low altitude to fly over wildfire areas, increasing the mission efficiency.
The Modular Airborne FireFighting System (MAFFS) is a self-contained unit used for aerial firefighting that can be loaded onto both military cargo transport Lockheed C-130 Hercules and Embraer C-390 Millennium, which then allows the aircraft to be used as an air tanker against wildfires. This allows the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) to use military aircraft from the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve to serve as an emergency backup resource to the civilian air tanker fleet. The original MAFFS has to be pressurized by a compressor on the ground as a part of the loading process. Aero Union, under contract to the USFS, has developed an improved version of the system, known as the MAFFS II.
The Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System (MAFFS II) has a capacity of up to 3,000 US gallons (11,000 l; 2,500 imp gal), replacing the five retardant tanks with one large tank, and has two on-board air compressors. The ability to pressurize the system in the air cuts turn-around time significantly. The new system discharges the retardant through a special plug in the paratroop drop door on the side of the aircraft, rather than requiring the cargo ramp door to be opened; this allows the aircraft to remain pressurized during the drop sequence. Far more significantly, the cargo ramp and door can remain closed, cutting drag considerably, and thereby allowing a greater performance margin than available with MAFFS I.