This year should prove to be a momentous one for the Airbus Military A400M. On the last day of April, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) granted the multinational airlifter–also dubbed the Grizzly–its initial type certification shortly after the five-aircraft test fleet had notched up the type’s 1,000th flight.
The recent comprehensive preliminary design review for the KC-46 tanker uncovered no significant issues beyond what was known from the three reviews already conducted since the engineering manufacturing and development (EMD) contract was signed in February 2011, according to Chuck Johnson, Boeing vice president for mobility. “We are a low-risk program being managed as moderate risk,” he told journalists in Washington last month.
Ten conversions of Airbus A330 airliners into Multi Role Tanker Transports (MRTTs) for the UK Royal Air Force (RAF), which were scheduled to be done by Cobham Aviation Services at Bournemouth Airport in the UK, have been switched to Airbus Military (AM) at Getafe, Madrid. Nearly half of the 675 workers at Bournemouth will lose their jobs because of the switch.
In a preliminary NTSB report on the June 3 Lockheed P2V Neptune tanker accident 20 miles north of Modena, Utah, the board said, “While conducting its second retardant drop of the day, Tanker 11 followed behind the lead airplane into the drop zone.
The FAA opened a number of Master Minimum Equipment List (MMEL) documents for comments from the public last week. The aircraft included are the Pilatus PC-12, Boeing 777 and Airbus A330.
The U.S. Navy has started the process of eventually replacing its F/A-18E/F Super Hornet strike fighter and the EA-18G Growler electronic warfare derivative. On April 13, the service issued a request for information (RFI) seeking industry concepts for the F/A-XX fighter to replace Super Hornets and Growlers around 2030.
The Airbus Military A400M is spreading its wings, as the once-troubled program makes progress toward first delivery early next year. The airlifter went to South America last month and Southeast Asia this week, for viewing by potential customers. The company said last November that it hopes to sell about 300 A400Ms over the next 20 years, and that the first production slots for new customers are available in 2016-17.
Lockheed Martin has provided more details on the lower-cost C-130XJ that it revealed earlier this year, along with the proposed SC-130J Sea Herc for maritime missions. The company has delivered 252 of the 320 C-130Js on order by 15 countries, and is reducing the production rate to 30 per year from last year’s peak of 36.
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) advises that “prudence and strong management attention” are required during the development phase of the U.S. Air Force’s KC-46A aerial refueling tanker. In a report to Congress, the GAO repeated concerns expressed last fall that the program faces schedule and technical risks.
The Indian Air Force (IAF) will decide on a new multi-role tanker transport by year-end. Bids for six aircraft from Airbus Military for the A330MRTT and from Ilyushin for the Il-78MK are now being compared, Airbus Military market development vice president Ian Elliott told AIN in Delhi this week. The new in-flight refuelers will augment the existing fleet of six Il-78s, which has been in service for over half a decade at Agra airbase.