PICTURE: First paratroops jump from Europe's A400M

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Airbus Military has completed the first paratroop drop tests involving its A400M "Grizzly".

"Six freefall paratroopers made jumps from aircraft "Grizzly Three" in separate passes from 6,000ft [1,820m] at the Fonsorbes drop zone near Toulouse on 4 November," Airbus says.

The personnel were drawn from the UK and French armed forces, and from the latter's CEV flight test centre. Two jumped from the A400M's rear cargo ramp, and four from the aircraft's left-hand paratroop door.

 
© Airbus Military

Airbus says initial feedback received from the paratroops is that the A400M is "easier to jump from than other transports". The company cites the type's ability to fly at just 110kt (203km/h) during the drop procedure as a contributory factor.

Visible in the released image, the A400M's new side door deflectors were added to the development aircraft fleet after initial tests with the ramp and side doors open resulted in high noise levels and turbulence inside the cargo hold, says Fernando Alonso, Airbus Military's senior vice-president flight and integration test centre.

 
© Airbus Military

Conducted after initial tests using water-filled balloons and also followed by the release of instrumented dummies from static lines, the first paratroop jumps will lead to further trials scheduled to take place during 2011, Airbus says.

Each A400M will be able to carry up to 116 fully equipped paratroops once the delayed type enters operational service around 2013.

After reaching a new agreement in Toulouse last week, Airbus expects to sign a new production contract before year-end with its European launch customers Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Spain, Turkey and the UK. The nations are now expected to take delivery of 170 production aircraft; 10 fewer than previously contracted for. Malaysia will also receive four examples under the company's lone export deal for the type.