The French Air Force accepted its first A400M airlifter on August 2, when an all-military crew flew the first production aircraft–MSN7–from Seville to its operational base at Orleans. The flight followed a July 31 declaration by the pan-European procurement agency OCCAR that Airbus Military had achieved the contracted specifications for the initial operating capability of the new airlifter.
On behalf of the seven European nations buying the Airbus Military A400M, the French government defense procurement agency (French acronym DGA) announced that the new airlifter had achieved military certification.
Europe’s failure to launch a medium-altitude long-endurance (Male) UAV to compete with long-established offerings from Israel and the U.S. was a major talking point at last week’s Paris Air Show. AIN’s team of editors and reporters provided full coverage of the world’s biggest aerospace event; all the stories can be found online at www.ainonline.com–some of them in longer form than we were able to publish in our four print editions of Paris Airshow News.
The second production A400M for the French air force (MSN8) was at the Paris Air Show, and President François Hollande flew into the show aboard one of the prototypes. However, Airbus Military has missed its target of making its first delivery of the new airlifter in the second quarter. According to operations director Bruno Sainjon from the DGA, which is the French defense agency responsible for approving the aircraft for service, “there are still some certification issues to take care of. We are still negotiating a bit.”
The new short takeoff and landing Antonov An-70 military transporter will soon complete joint state testing, according to Dmytro Kiva, Antonov president and general designer and academician of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine. The An-70’s noise certification has been issued, he added.
“It’s clear for us that this is the year of the A400M. The aircraft is ready, and it will be the reference for the next 30 years.” These were the words of Airbus Military’s Domingo Ureña-Raso, speaking just prior to the Paris Air Show.
In preparation for the formal acceptance by the Armée de l’Air (AdA) of the first production A400M, Airbus Military has been working hard with its customers and suppliers to put in place a comprehensive support and training program to facilitate the A400M’s entry into service. That package is being forged largely through experience with the first customer, France, so that it can be used as a model for application to following customers.
With delivery of the first A400M airlifters nearing, Airbus Military has concluded an initial support deal with the French air force and a long-term training contract with the UK Royal Air Force (RAF). Meanwhile, Airbus Military is equipping its international training center in Seville with A400M computer-based trainers and a full-motion simulator.
Airbus Military still expects to deliver the first production A400M to the French Air Force in the second quarter. The milestone slipped by three months following a gearbox fault last summer, which interrupted function and reliability (F&R) flight-testing. To support its recent military intervention in Mali, France turned to the UK Royal Air Force C-17 fleet, which flew troops and equipment from Villacoublay to Bamako.
Paramount’s innovative AHRLAC (advanced high-performance reconnaissance light aircraft) program is advancing rapidly, with the first prototype now in the final stages of construction. The South African company intends to fly the first machine next year, but will not give a more exact schedule.