France's first A400M Atlas transport will be capable of meeting the design's maximum payload requirement on its delivery, but is to have its turboprop engines replaced after just two years of service, Airbus Military confirms.
The first of 174 A400Ms on order for eight nations, aircraft MSN7 is scheduled to be delivered to the French air force's Orleans air base in late May or early June, and to then participate in the Paris air show.
Production-representative aircraft "Grizzly 5" was subjected to cold weather trials in northern Canada
Speaking at the manufacturer's San Pablo final assembly site in Seville, Spain on 15 February, Airbus Military programme head Cédric Gautier identified the period between 2 and 6 March as the target for the French air force aircraft's flight debut. Its first auxiliary power unit test was conducted on 14 February, with ground engine runs due to commence soon.
"For the time being it is running extremely well," says Gautier, who adds that negotiations over the aircraft's entry into service configuration are also on track to be concluded with Paris by late March. "We have no technical or operational show-stoppers expressed by the customer," he notes.