EADS has performed the roll-out ceremony for the Airbus Military A400M transport, moving the €20 billion ($31.3 billion) project a step closer to service entry in early 2010.
Performed at the A400M final assembly line at EADS Casa's San Pablo site near Seville in southern Spain, the 26 June event saw the first aircraft rolled out several months before EADS's targeted first flight milestone of later this year. Company officials have recently spoken of a "summer" debut as having moved to late September or early October.
"This event demonstrates our joint determination to show that EADS can design and manufacture a long-range military transport aircraft which will set new standards in airlift and open further potential in international markets," said chief executive Louis Gallois. "The A400M will prove to be an indispensable asset to the seven European launch nations, Malaysia and South Africa."
Describing the A400M's development programme as a "formidable challenge" and "a long and less than easy journey," Airbus Military chief executive Carlos Suarez said: "The race is not yet finished. Only when our customers are happy with our product and our shareholders are satisfied with this business can we say that the work is done.."
Patrick Bellouard, director of Europe's OCCAR procurement agency, said: "We still have some challenges ahead to complete the certification and to ensure that the full military capability will be delivered. We will continue to work intensively to satisfy the needs of the military user."