Europe's first production example of the Airbus Military A400M tactical transport has moved into final assembly, with delayed work on aircraft MSN 001 having commenced in late August.


Pictured with its nose section and main fuselage barrel in jigs on EADS Casa's A400M final assembly line in Seville, Spain, the aircraft is the first of five which will be used to support flight test and certification activities from mid-2008.

Work on the aircraft had been scheduled to start by late March, but was pushed back by five months while EADS Casa completed the assembly by July of a static test airframe at Getafe near Madrid as a risk-reduction measure.

The decision to delay the start of final assembly was among several factors which have contributed to a revised schedule for the first flight of the A400M, with EADS in July confirming a new target of "summer 2008".

The programme's lead industrial partner has also hinted at the possibility of making late customer deliveries, although France is currently still scheduled to receive Europe's first of 180 aircraft in the fourth quarter of 2009.

Late availability of the Europrop International TP400-D6 engine is also threatening the schedule for Airbus Military's flight test programme, which will be run from Seville and Toulouse, France.

MSN 001's composite wing was also recently delivered to Seville from Airbus UK's Filton plant near Bristol, and its tail surfaces are also on site, says Airbus Military.

Related link

  • Airbus Military A400M countdown