Airbus has suggested civilian operation of the A400M airlifter for disaster relief flights. At a media briefing during the ILA Berlin airshow last week, Norbert Kolvenbach, vice president for public affairs Germany, noted that the aircraft is already certified by EASA. He floated the idea of a “supranational” operator, such as the United Nations. “The A400M could be interesting,” said Birgitte Stalder-Olsen, head of logistics for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), at the same briefing.
Airbus Military has launched operations at a services logistics hub at its Seville production facility. The 27,000-sq-ft hub is staffed by 100 people who manage approximately 22,500 different part numbers. It provides spares for the company’s A330MRTT, A400M, C295 and CN-235 series of airlifters and tankers, and their ground equipment. It is certified to EASA Part 145 standards.
In ceremonies at the Seville factory and at Orleans airbase on September 30, Airbus Military and the French Air Force celebrated the entry into service of the A400M airlifter. No new aircraft were handed over, but delivery of the second aircraft for France and the first for Turkey will occur by the end of October.
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.
Airbus Military says it hopes to resume, in November, the remaining 140 hours of function and reliability flight-testing that is required before its A400M airlifter can be granted a full type certificate. The flights with MSN6, the first production-representative aircraft, were suspended in July because of the repeated detection of metallic chips in the oil system of one of the TP400 engines.