Europe’s A400M airlifter was named Atlas, after the Greek god who carried the world on his shoulders, last Friday in a rain-soaked ceremony at the Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT), RAF Fairford. The aircraft, which is the first production representative aircraft (MSN6), repositioned from Fairford to the Farnborough static park yesterday.
Sagem, part of France’s Safran Group, and Germany’s MTU Aero Engine have formed a 50-50 joint venture company for equipment control software and hardware. Dubbed Aerospace Embedded Solutions (AES), the new company will provide “safety-critical” products for military and civil aviation with applications including engines, landing gear and thrust reversers.
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.
EADS incurred a further charge of €158 million ($202 million) during this year’s first quarter due to higher-than-expected costs associated with retrofit repairs to cracks in wing rib feet of Airbus A380s.
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.
AAR has been selected by Airbus Military to provide off-wing repair management and logistics services. AAR Defense Systems & Logistics will manage the five-year programs. AAR will provide a single point of contact for the repair of components that Airbus Military previously outsourced to multiple vendors. The programs will focus primarily on support of the CASA C-212, CN-235 and C-295 but with scope to support other Airbus Military types.
Airbus Military flew the fifth and last A400M development aircraft for the first time on December 20. This aircraft carries only a light load of flight-test instruments and will be used mainly for electromagnetic interference (EMI) testing, cold-weather trials, the proving of cargo loads and operational demonstrations. The company reports the A400M has now logged more than 2,500 of the 3,700 flight-test hours planned.
Airbus Military has begun final assembly of the first production A400M, slated for the French Air Force. The company says that delivery of this aircraft (MSN7) is on schedule for the first quarter of 2013, thanks to good progress in the flight-test program.
Airbus Military has delivered the first of four CN235 Maritime Patrol Aircraft to Mexico, and the first of two C295 medium airlifters to Ghana.
While the A400M program enters a new phase of turbulence, with Germany looking to slash its purchase to 40 from 53 and France looking to renegotiate a maintenance deal, the flight-test campaign is forging ahead with the aim of getting the European airlifter delivered by the end of 2012.