Airbus' Stade, Germany, site has just dispatched the first A400M military transport aircraft vertical tailplane VTP to Getafe, Spain, where the static test aircraft final assembly is taking place.

As the VTP left Airbus’s Stade site on 17 April by truck, Thilo Liebig, Head of the A400M Team for Fuselage and VTP said:  “This is a major milestone for the A400M programme.”

The A400M VTP is, like all other Airbus VTPs, a fully composite carbon fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP) structure. But it has to be stronger and more complex than the VTPs for the civil types because horizontal tailplane (HTP) will be mounted on top of it, resulting in higher loads.

After its arrival at the EADS CASA Getafe site, the VTP will be joined with the HTP made at EADS CASA, Tablada, and then assembled on the central rear fuselage which was delivered to Getafe on 20 March.

a400m tailplane

Firm orders for A400M now stand at 192 aircraft. There were 180 in the original order for seven European NATO nations: 60 for Germany; 50 for France; 27 for Spain; 25 for the UK; 10 for Turkey; seven for Belgium and one for Luxembourg. Outside Europe there have been orders for eight A400Ms from South Africa, and four from Malaysia.

A400M wing pictures ...