Airbus Begins Final Assembly Of The First A400M For France


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Airbus Begins Final Assembly Of The First A400M For France

By Eddy Metcalf

November 26, 2011 - Following the launch of A400M series production last February, Airbus Military has begun final assembly of the first A400M that will be delivered to a customer –the French Air Force. The fuselage for this aircraft, known as MSN7, arrived at the final assembly line in Seville (Spain) on board an Airbus Beluga.  

The wings and nose arrived some days earlier and the integration of the central box and outer wings has already begun. The horizontal tailplane (HTP) is expected next week and the vertical tailplane (VTP) in two weeks time. France will receive its first A400M military airlifter around the turn of the year 2012/2013.

The Airbus A400M, also known as the Atlas, is a multi-national four-engine turboprop military transport aircraft. It was designed by Airbus Military as a tactical airlifter with strategic capabilities.

Eight serial A400M aircraft are already at different stages of production. The photograph shows the unloading of the fuselage from an Airbus Beluga in the A400M final assembly line in Seville (Spain). The additional picture attached shows the same operation for the wings and nose of the aircraft. 

The A400M is an all-new military airlifter designed to meet the needs of the world's Armed Forces in the 21st Century. Thanks to its most advanced technologies, it is able to fly higher, faster and further, while retaining high maneuverability, low speed, and short, soft and rough airfield capabilities.  

It combines both tactical and strategic/logistic missions. With its cargo hold specifically designed to carry the outsize equipment needed today for both military and humanitarian disaster relief missions, it can bring this material quickly and directly to where it is most needed.  

Conceived to be highly reliable, dependable, and with a great survivability, the multipurpose A400M can do more with less, implying smaller fleets and less investment from the operator. The A400M is the most cost efficient and versatile airlifter ever conceived and absolutely unique in its capabilities.


The A400M will operate in many configurations including cargo transport, troop transport, Medical evacuation, aerial refueling, and electronic surveillance. The aircraft is intended for use on short, soft landing strips and for long-range, cargo transport flights. It features a fly-by-wire flight control system with sidestick controllers and flight envelope protection. Like other Airbus aircraft, the A400M will have a full glass cockpit (all information accessed through large color screens) and as such will represent a technological leap compared to the older C-130s and C-160s that many countries now operate. 


The A400M's wings are primarily carbon fiber reinforced plastic. The eight-bladed Scimitar propeller is also made from a woven composite material. The aircraft is powered by four Europrop TP400-D6 engines rated at 8,250 kW (11,000 hp) each. The TP400-D6 engine is to be the most powerful turboprop engine in the West to enter operational use. One of the few propeller powered aircraft with swept wings, the turboprops provide an efficient cruise speed of 780 km/h (480 mph) which falls between the C-130 and the jet-powered C-17.

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