Airbus Military has started final assembly work on the first of at least 174 A400M military transports, with the aircraft due to be delivered to the French air force from late next year.
Pictures released by the manufacturer on 23 November show aircraft MSN7's nose and wings arriving at its San Pablo site near Seville, Spain by Airbus A300-600ST Beluga freighter earlier this month, with their delivery having been followed by its main fuselage section.
Both images © Airbus Military
"The integration of the central box and outer wings has already begun," the company said, with the aircraft's horizontal and vertical tailplanes scheduled to arrive within the next two weeks.
"France will receive its first A400M around the turn of the year 2012-2013," Airbus Military said. Structures for the programme's next eight series production aircraft are also now in varying stages of the production process, it added.
Launch operator France will receive a total of 50 A400Ms, with the remaining examples under contract to be delivered to European partner nations Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg, Spain, Turkey and the UK, plus first export buyer Malaysia.
The planned delivery of the first production aircraft will follow a programme delay of roughly three years.