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.”
He went on to explain that the main work lies in confirming that Airbus Military is providing what had been agreed to in the detailed specification for the aircraft. Inevitably there have been a few discrepancies and defects that require rectification, and the acceptance process will require more flights before the aircraft can be signed off. But, Sainjon told AIN at Paris, “Up to now there are no red flags. We don’t see any showstoppers.”
Three weeks ago, a French air force spokesman told AIN that the service expects to accept the aircraft in time to take part in the traditional Bastille Day fly-past over Paris on July 14. However, an Airbus Military spokesman denied this week that the company had received any formal notification to that effect.
The French air force hopes to be able to begin long-haul flights overseas early next year with its first two aircraft, which are being delivered in EIS (entry-into-service) configuration, which allows them to undertake non-tactical airlift missions. The second aircraft is due for handover in August. The third production machine is scheduled for delivery to the Turkish air force in September.