We’re playing a bit of news catch-up on Flightglobal after an extended festive break, and top of my list was to provide an update on the A400M programme.
What should we call the aircraft now that EADS has become the Airbus Group; how has the French air force been using its first two aircraft; and has MSN9 been flown off to Turkey yet?
The brand name ‘Airbus Military’ is no more, and with the prospect of having to refer to the “Atlas” as the ‘Airbus Defence & Space A400M’ not especially pleasing, you can expect us to now start writing about the ‘Airbus A400M’. And we’ll be writing about it a lot in 2014: starting with the news that the French air force has officially given the type its operational debut, in a 6h 40min mission flown from Orléans air base to Bamako in Mali. And no, this wasn’t a PR stunt, as the aircraft made the trip carrying 22t of supplies (Rex Features image below).
Operational and industrial success is going to be vital for the A400M programme in 2014, as Airbus now looks like having to deliver 12 of the aircraft. That’s because only two of a planned four were handed over last year: a third for France was delayed at the customer’s request; and Ankara’s lead example remains on the ramp in Seville, Spain, around four months after it had been thought ready for transfer.
There’s no official word from Airbus as to the cause of what I’ll tag as the “Turkey Lurkey” issue, but hopefully we’ll see MSN9 departing for its home very soon.