French Enlist UK Airlift Support While Awaiting A400M

 - January 25, 2013, 11:50 AM
The first production A400M (MSN7) is seen outside the factory recently, in French Air Force colors. (Photo: Airbus Military)

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.

The A400M F&R tests resumed in November and were successfully completed by December 10 using a single aircraft, MSN6. Airbus Military head of flight-test Ferdinand Alonso said, “The A400M has really been put through its paces. It has flown an average of two flights and 15 hours per day over 26 days with only six days devoted to routine maintenance. The crews have been greatly impressed with the performance of the onboard systems and engines, and we are confident that we have a sound basis for completing the civil and military certification in the next couple of months.”

Only four A400Ms are scheduled for delivery this year–three to France and one to Turkey. Following the rollout of the first French aircraft, four more are in final assembly, with another 13 in production.