The Airbus Defence & Space A400M tactical airlifter has received certification for its automatic low flight capability.

A test campaign took place in the Pyrenees mountains and central France during April, says Airbus. The work involved operations down to 500ft, as well as transitions from low-level flight to other operations, such as aerial delivery.

A400M Low Level Flights_

Source: Scott Norbury/Airbus Defence & Space

A Royal Air Force A400M flies the Mach Loop in Wales during 2017

The certification covers operations under visual meteorological conditions, where the crew has visibility. A second phase under instrument meteorological conditions, without visibility, is expected to be certified in the second quarter of 2021, Airbus says.

“Inherent to the fighter aircraft world, and as a unique capability for a military transport aircraft, automatic low-level flight improves the A400M’s terrain masking and survivability, making the aircraft less detectable in hostile areas and less susceptible to threats when cruising towards key military operations like aerial delivery, air-to-air refuelling, logistic or other specific special operations,” the company says.

Cirium fleets data indicates that there are 93 A400Ms in service and 84 on order. Major operators include France, Germany and the UK.