Activities to train the first French air force personnel to operate Airbus Military's A400M Atlas transport will begin late this month, with the service also confirming that it expects to receive its first of the aircraft during May.

An initial cadre of maintenance personnel will receive training in supporting the type from 28 January at the International Training Centre at Airbus Military's San Pablo site near Seville, the French air force says. Its first pilots to convert to the Atlas will undergo instruction in Toulouse from 4 February, before receiving further training in Spain, it adds.

Airbus Military in 2012 outlined a training programme that it expected to cover an initial six maintainers and loadmasters and four pilots, with work at that time expected to start late last year. The original schedule slipped slightly, however, due to an up-to three month delay in delivering the first production A400M, MSN7, to launch operator France.

The aircraft's manufacturer says it is on track to deliver the transport before the end of the second quarter of this year, but its customer on 23 January detailed an expectation to receive it during May. The first of 50 Atlas aircraft on order for France, the aircraft emerged from the paint hangar at the San Pablo site in French markings on 15 January.

 A400M French air force - Airbus Military

Airbus Military

Infrastructure work to house the A400M at France's Orléans air base is gathering pace, meanwhile, with training and service centres being built and additional ramp space being constructed to accommodate the new type. The delivery of a flight simulator for the Atlas at the site is expected during April 2013, the air force says.

Source: Flight International