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. The first production aircraft (MSN7, for the French air force) made its first flight on March 7.
The initial in-service support (ISS) contract with the French air force runs for the first 18 months and includes support by Airbus Military at Orleans airbase, spares management and an “extended query answering service.” The French are due to receive the first of their 25 A400Ms in the second quarter and a further two by the end of the year. The British and French air arms are considering a cross-Channel approach to long-term support. Airbus Military has responded with a proposal, which it describes as “innovative,” and says that the second quarter may also see this pact concluded. Other MRO providers are also bidding for this work.
Airbus Military and Thales announced this week that they had signed an 18-year contract to provide training services for the RAF. They have formed a joint venture named A400M Training Services for the purpose. It will design, construct and manage a training school at RAF Brize Norton, as well as install and maintain full-flight simulators at the Thales training and simulation facility in Crawley, near Gatwick Airport. The joint venture will also provide other synthetic training equipment and support the RAF’s own course design team and training staff. The British, French and German air forces are sending their A400M instructor pilots and initial ground crew to Seville for training this year. Smaller air forces might decide to do all their pilot training in the Spanish facility, an Airbus Military spokesman told AIN. In addition to the simulator and computer-based trainers, Airbus Military has also installed a full-size replica of the A400M’s cargo hold for training loadmasters.