The Airbus A400M new generation airlifter has achieved a new decisive milestone after the certification of its Automatic Low Level Flight capability, offering a unique in its class capability for a military transport aircraft.
The certification campaign, performed in April above the Pyrenees and central France, involved operations down to 500 feet/152 m, including transitions from low level flight to other operations like aerial delivery.
This first certification phase concerns operations with Visual Meteorological Conditions, meaning with crew visibility. There will be a second phase including Instrumental Meteorological Conditions, without visibility, to be certified in Q2 2021.
Inherent to the fighter aircraft world, and as a unique capability for a military transport aircraft, the Automatic Low Level Flights improves the A400M’s terrain masking and survivability, making the aircraft less detectable in hostile areas and less susceptible to threats when cruising towards key military operations like aerial delivery, air-to-air refuelling, logistic or other specific special operations.
The Airbus A400M new-generation airlifter ordered by the Luxembourg Armed Forces has made its maiden flight, marking a key milestone towards its delivery. The aircraft, known as MSN104, took off from Seville (Spain), where the final assembly line is located, at 16:08 local time (CET) and landed back on site 5 hours later.
The Luxembourg aircraft will be operated by the armed forces of Belgium and Luxembourg within a binational unit based in Belgium. MSN104 is scheduled to be delivered in the second quarter of 2020.
The picture shows the Luxembourg aircraft landing at Seville airport, Spain.
Airbus Defence and Space has delivered to the German Air Force its first A400M transport aircraft qualified for tactical operations and able to fly in areas subject to military threats.
The aircraft is the sixth A400M in German service and the first with the new capabilities in addition to the world-leading performance of all A400Ms as strategic transports. All aircraft will be retrofitted to the new standard and receive subsequent enhancements as those are certified.
Key aspects of the aircraft’s latest capabilities are improvements in its self-defence systems, ability to air-drop cargo loads, and paratrooping. Additionally, it can operate on unprepared runways, fly as low as 150 feet/45.7 m above the ground, refuel other aircraft as a tanker, and safely take-off and land in extremely high temperatures.
Airbus Defence and Space A400M Programme Manager, Kurt Rossner, said: «The A400M programme has made enormous progress this year in implementing these critical capabilities on the aircraft. In addition to having twice the payload-range of the legacy transports like the C-160 and C-130 that it is replacing, it can now also operate from any runway that those older aircraft could use. There is no other aircraft in the market with the A400M´s combination of tactical and strategic capabilities and it is going to transform Germany’s air mobility force».
The new aircraft is fitted with a Defensive Aids Sub-System (DASS) incorporating a Missile Warning System, Radar Warning Receiver, and an Expendables Dispensing System to eject flares and radar-confusing chaff. The DASS for all A400Ms is integrated by Airbus Defence and Space at Ulm.
Military and humanitarian loads of up to 8 tonnes/17,637 lbs each, including for example 24 × 1 tonne/2,205 lbs pallets, are fully certified for air-dropping from the aircraft’s ramp and further loads are being continually qualified in flight test.
Paratroops can be dropped from the ramp or side paratroop doors in sticks of up to 20, and sticks of 30 have already been successfully demonstrated with certification to follow. Flight testing continues to build the numbers next to 40 and then 58 in a single pass.
The A400M is certified to operate from grass runways and has successfully completed testing of operations from gravel and sandy soil with certification in process. Low-level flight in mountainous terrain is cleared down to 150 feet/45.7 m above ground by day and 300 feet/91.4 m by night under the pilot’s manual control. Development of automatic low-level flight is well advanced.
The aircraft is certified to receive fuel in-flight from a tanker, and as a tactical tanker itself to refuel fighters and other large aircraft by day, with night operations demonstrated and close to certification.
In this latest configuration the A400M is certified to operate in temperatures up to 55°C at sea level, ensuring excellent «hot and high» performance at operationally challenging airfields around the world. And it is approved to take-off and fly on only three of its four powerful engines in the event of a mechanical problem or battle damage, adding to its outstanding level of operating autonomy.
The Spanish Air Force has taken delivery of its first Airbus A400M new generation airlifter – the most advanced aircraft to have been produced in Spain and one which will transform the nation’s air mobility fleet.
Today’s contractual handover of the first of 27 aircraft that it has ordered makes Spain the sixth nation to put the A400M into service.
Representatives of the Spanish Air Force and Ministry of Defence formally accepted the aircraft, known as MSN44, from Airbus Defence and Space in a brief ceremony at the A400M Final Assembly Line (FAL) in Seville.
Airbus Defence and Space Head of Military Aircraft, Fernando Alonso, said: «Today is truly a special day for all of us who have been involved with the A400M programme over the years – but particularly for the Seville workforce that has worked so hard to make the aircraft a reality. Every delivery to every customer is of huge importance to us, but being able to hand over the first aircraft to Spain from our final assembly line in Seville is a source of particular pride. I would like to thank all our employees, as well as Organisation conjointe de coopération en matière d’armement (OCCAR) and our Spanish customer for achieving this milestone».
In Spanish service the A400M will replace the ageing C-130 aircraft type, carrying about twice the load over the same distance, or the same load twice as far. In addition, it can serve as a tactical air-to-air tanker for other transport aircraft, including other A400Ms.
Uniquely it is able both to cruise at jet-like speeds and altitudes over intercontinental ranges due to its four extremely powerful engines and advanced aerodynamic design, as well as to operate repeatedly from short and unprepared airstrips close to the scene of military action or humanitarian crisis.
Under an agreement signed in September, 14 aircraft will be delivered at a steady pace between now and 2022, and the remaining 13 are scheduled for delivery from 2025 onwards.
The Spanish A400M fleet will be based at Zaragoza in North East Spain and will represent the heavylift element of a transport force that includes the medium C295 and CN235, and light C212 aircraft – all produced by Airbus Defence and Space. MSN44 will fly to Zaragoza in the coming days.
Altogether more than 1600 employees from Airbus Defence and Space work in Spain for the A400m program, including 1100 working directly at the Seville FAL and nearby Tablada Factory. To date eight nations have ordered 174 aircraft of which 34 have now been delivered.
Aircraft leaves final assembly line at Seville to serve at Zaragoza base
The first Airbus A400M new generation airlifter ordered by the Spanish Air Force has made its maiden flight, marking a key milestone towards its delivery. The aircraft, known as MSN44, took off from Seville, Spain where the A400M Final Assembly Line is located at 15:25 local time (GMT+1) on 5 September and landed back on site 3 hours and 45 minutes later.
Test-Pilot Nacho Lombo, who captained the flight, said after landing: «As always, the aircraft was a pleasure to fly. I am confident that its unique combination of strategic and tactical capabilities will have a transformational effect on the Spanish Air Force’s air mobility operations as it has done in other countries already». The aircraft is scheduled to be delivered in the coming weeks. Photos show MSN44 taking off and during its maiden flight.
Airbus Defence and Space has successfully completed certification testing of the A400M new generation airlifter on a grass runway. The tests using the development aircraft MSN2 took place over a three-week period at the airfield of Écury-sur-Coole in France in September and examined the aircraft’s behaviour on grass and natural soil runways. The A400M demonstrated excellent performance both in taxying manoeuvres, such as U-turns, and during take-off and landing on the 1,500 m strip. These tests followed earlier successful results on the gravel surface at Ablitas in Spain and will be followed by tests on sand surfaces next year.
45.10 m/148 feet
14.70 m/48 feet
42.40 m/139 feet
Cargo Hold Length (ramp excluded)
17.71 m/58 feet
Cargo Hold Height
3.85-4.00 m/12 feet 7 inch-13 feet
Cargo Hold Width
4.00 m/13 feet
Cargo Hold Volume
340 m3/12,000 feet3
Maximum Take Off Weight
141,000 kg/310,850 lbs
Maximum Landing Weight
123,000 kg/271,200 lbs
Internal Fuel Weight
50,500 kg/111,300 lbs
37,000 kg/81,600 lbs
EuroProp International TP400-D6
11,000 shp/8,200 kW
Maximum Operating Altitude
12,200 m/40,000 feet
Maximum Cruise Speed (TAS)
300 knots/345 mph/555 km/h
Cruise Speed Range
Range with Maximum Payload (37,000 kg/81,600 lbs)
1,780 NM/2,050 miles/3,300 km
Range with 30,000 kg/66,000 lbs Payload
2,450 NM/2,796 miles/4,500 km
Range with 20,000 kg/44,000 lbs Payload
3,450 NM/3,977 miles/6,400 km
Maximum Range (Ferry)
4,700 NM/5,406 miles/8,700 km
Airbus Defence and Space has successfully completed certification testing of the A400M new generation airlifter on a grass runway. Tests took place over a three-week period at the airfield of Écury-sur-Coole in France in September and examined the aircraft’s behaviour on grass and natural soil runways.
While the Ukrainian project of Antonov An-70 is still lacking funding, the European Airbus A400M Atlas is gaining momentum. As UK Ministry of Defence reported, the first of the UK’s A400M Atlas aircraft has been officially unveiled at its new home at Royal Air Force (RAF) Brize Norton.
The aircraft will replace the existing fleet of C-130 Hercules (http://usairforc.blogspot.ru/2014/11/c-130j-super-hercules.html). Manufactured by Airbus Defence & Space, A400M Atlas will represent major advances on its predecessor, capable of flying almost twice as fast, twice as far and carrying almost twice as much cargo. With a cargo capacity of 32 tonnes and a hold optimised for carriage of heavy vehicles, helicopters or cargo pallets, the aircraft is capable of supporting a wide range of operational scenarios.
The UK is the third country to operate the aircraft, after France and Turkey and the £2.8 billion programme will see a total of 22 aircraft delivered to the RAF in the coming years, as it was reported by defense-aerospace.com.
The A400M has been rigorously designed to meet the equipment transport needs of modern armed forces. The A400M can perform missions, which previously required two – or more – different types of aircraft, and which even then provided an imperfect solution. Its fuselage external width of 5.64 metres/18 ft 6 in is equal to that of the A330/A340 wide-body. Its cargo hold has an inside usable width of 4 metres/13ft, height of up to 4 metres/13ft, and usable length of 17.71 metres/58 ft.
Extensive use of advanced 3D computational fluid dynamics tools optimised the wing shape, resulting in a low drag design and thus a high speed cruise of Mach 0.72, without compromising low speed performance and handling.
With a maximum payload of up to 37 tonnes (81 600 lb) and a volume of 340 m3 (12 000 ft3), the A400M can carry numerous pieces of outsize cargo including, vehicles and helicopters that are too large or too heavy for previous generation tactical airlifters, for example, an NH90 or a CH-47 Chinook (http://usgroundforces. blogspot.ru/2014/11/ch-47-chinook.html) helicopter, or two heavy armoured vehicles for military purposes. It can also carry a heavy logistic truck, or a rescue boat, or large lifting devices, such as excavators or mobile cranes needed to assist in disaster relief.
The A400M is able to land on, and take-off from, any short, soft and rough unprepared CBR 6 airstrip, no longer than 750 m/2,500 ft, while delivering up to 25 tonnes/55,000 lb of payload, and with enough fuel on board for a 930 km/500 nm return trip. In addition to offering optimised support to deployed military operating bases, these characteristics also allow it to ensure that swift humanitarian aid can be deployed direct to a disaster region.
The A400M can also easily and swiftly be adapted to become a Tanker, if required in a military operation. Air-to-Air Refuelling can be done either through two wing mounted hose and drogue under-wing refuelling pods or through a centre-line fuselage refuelling unit (FRU). Its built-in air-to-air refuelling capability allows it to be rapidly re-configured to become a tanker. With hard points, fuel lines and electrical connections already built into the wings, it takes under two hours to convert the A400M from an airlifter into a two-point tanker aircraft.
The A400M excels in the airdrop role, being able to drop from both high and low altitudes, (as high as 40,000 ft for special forces’ operations, and as low as 15ft for low level load deliveries). With the new A400M, which can carry more paratroopers than other Western-built military transport, Airbus Military is setting new standards in paradropping operations.
Overall Length 45.10 m 148 ft
Overall Height 14.70 m 48 ft
Wing Span 42.40 m 139 ft
Cargo Hold Length (ramp excluded) 17.71 m 58 ft
Cargo Hold Height 3.85-4.00 m 12 ft 7 in-13 ft
Cargo Hold Width 4.00 m 13 ft
Cargo Hold Volume 340 m3 12 000 ft3
Maximum Take Off Weight 141 000 kg 310 850 lb
Maximum Landing Weight 123 000 kg 271 200 lb
Internal Fuel Weight 50 500 kg 111 300 lb
Maximum Payload 37 000 kg 81 600 lb
EuroProp International TP400-D6 11 000 shp 8200 kW
Maximum Operating Altitude 40 000 ft 12 200 m
Maximum Cruise Speed (TAS) 300 kt 555 km/h
Cruise Speed Range 0.68-0.72 M
Maximum Payload (37 000 kg – 81 600 lb) 1780 nm 3300 km
Range with 30 000 kg (66 000 lb) Payload 2450 nm 4500 km
Range with 20 000 kg (44 000 lb) Payload 3450 nm 6400 km
Maximum Range (Ferry) 4700 nm 8700 km
Total orders 174
Total deliveries 6
Total in operation 6
Number of customers-operators 8
Number of current operators 2
Number of countries 8
France Orders – 50, Deliveries – 5, In operation – 5