PICTURES: Airbus chief Enders makes skydive from A400M

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Airbus chief executive Tom Enders has become one of the first people to try out the A400M's suitability as a paratroop-delivery platform, having jumped from development aircraft MSN3 on 13 November.

A team of 10 experienced sports parachutists, including Enders and Bruno Delannoy, A400M programme manager for Europe's OCCAR procurement agency, took part in the test. They jumped from the aircraft's rear cargo ramp from an altitude of 12,000ft (3,660m) above the La Juliana drop zone near Seville, Spain. The skydivers involved had previously made a combined 35,000-plus descents, Airbus says.

 
© Airbus Military

"It was an enormous pleasure for me to experience the excellent qualities of the A400M for paratroop operations," says Enders. "Paratroopers serving with our customer nations can be confident that the A400M will provide a far superior platform for their operations in future."

 
© Airbus Military

Using MSN3, Airbus Military performed the first paradrop tests with an A400M near Toulouse, France on 4 November.

EADS expects a new development and production contract for the military transport to come into effect late this year, after receiving the required parliamentary approvals from European partner nations Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Spain, Turkey and the UK. They will receive 170 A400Ms from early 2013 under the programme, with export customer Malaysia also to acquire four.

Airbus Military's current three development aircraft had been flown more than 230 times by early November and logged a combined 765 flight hours, the company says. MSN4 will join the flight test programme before the end of this year, with a fifth and final example to follow during 2011.