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A400M Loadmaster
Future Large Aircraft - FLA
Avion de Transport Futur - ATF

The delivery of the first production A400M new generation airlifter was officially celebrated during a 30 September 2013 ceremony held at the Airbus Military Final Assembly Line (FAL) in Seville, Spain. Actual delivery to the French Air Force of the the plane (the first of 50 it is to received) actually took place on 5 August 2013 and came after a delay of 4 years and going over budget by 6.2 billion Euros. The aircraft is to be based at the Bricy Air Base 123 in Orleans and initially used for training, with 2 more aircraft to be delivered by year's end.

On 05 March 2010, Customer Nations and EADS came to a principle agreement regarding the A400M military transport aircraft with the intention to amend the original contract accordingly in the coming weeks. In this principle agreement, the Customer Nations agree to increase the price of the contract by 2 billion; waive all liquidated damages related to current delays; provide an additional amount of 1.5 billion in exchange for a participation in future export sales (Export Levy Facilities); and accelerate pre-delivery payments in the period of 2010 to 2014, a new schedule of which will be finalised in the amended contract.

In a package presented by seven European countries to Airbus parent company EADS, Germany said in February 2010 it could offer $1.64 billion in cash and loan guarantees to help cover cost overruns for the A400M military transport plane. Germany had ordered the most planes of the seven countries, and in total, the country was expected to pay about $7 billion in additional costs.

By 2009 the program was about 5 billion euros ($7.4 billion) over budget and four years behind schedule. Airbus stated as of 2003 that the A400M unit cost was around $80 million, but the national budget numbers at that time indicated that the unit costs is more likely to be $120 million-$130 million. The aircraft had been due to enter service with air forces in 2009, but this has now been put back to 2013.

The first Airbus Military A400M military airlifter landed back in Seville, Spain on 11 December 2009 at 14:02. The crew confirmed that the aircraft, known as MSN 1 and its four Europrop International TP400D turboprop engines performed as expected. For its first flight the aircraft took off at a weight of 127 tonnes, carrying 15 tonnes of test equipment including two tonnes of water ballast, compared with its maximum take-off weight of 141 tonnes. As planned, the six-man crew extensively explored the aircraft's flight envelope in direct law, including a wide speed-range, and tested lowering and raising of the landing gear and high-lift devices at altitude. After checking the aircraft's performance in the landing configuration the crew landed back at Seville.

In the first half of 2010 MSN 1 would be joined by two sister aircraft, MSN 2 and MSN 3, followed by MSN 4 by the end of the year. A fifth aircraft will join the programme during 2011. This fleet will be used for some 3,700 hours of test-flying between now and first delivery to the French Air Force at the end of 2012. This will be followed by additional military development flying. The type will be certificated by both the civil and military authorities.

A400M Program

Germany 53 + 7 options
France 50
Spain 27
Britain 22
Turkey 10
South Africa 8
Belgium 7
Malaysia 4
Luxembourg 1
TOTAL [July 2012]174 + 7 options
Future Potential225
The A400M is a military transport aircraft designed to meet the requirements of eight European Air Forces (Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Turkey and the United Kingdom) to replace their fleets of C-130 Hercules and C-160 Transall. These aircraft are currently in service and will become obsolete in the next century. With the A400M, the goal is to standardize Europe's fleet of tactical transports. The relatively larger production run allows greater production rates which will then reduce the prices per aircraft for airframe, engines and spare parts. Moreover, this will provide for an improved interoperability level and the option of consolidating major maintenance operations in a joint industrial consortium. The harmonized military requirements of eight countries have been published in the "European Staff Requirement" (ESR).

The total number of aircraft required by these countries amounts to approximately 300. The A400M began 1982 as the British Aerospace / Aerospatiale / MBB / Lockheed Future International Military Airlifter (FIMA) program. Requirements were originally stated as 297 aircraft75 for Germany, 50 for France, 45 for the U.K., 44 for Italy, 36 for Spain, 26 for Turkey, 12 for Belgium, and nine for Portugal. FIMA became the Euroflag Future Large Aircraft (FLA), which was turned over to prime contractor Airbus Industrie in September 1994. At the July 2000 Farnborough Air Show, a joint declaration indicated an intent to buy a total of 225 European A400M military transport aircraft. The nations intend to procure, in an initial order, aircraft in the following numbers which will be sufficient to launch the program; Belgium 7 aircraft, France 50 aircraft, Germany 73 aircraft, Italy 16 aircraft, Luxembourg 1 aircraft in close co-operation with Belgium, Spain 27 aircraft, Turkey 26 aircraft and the United Kingdom 25 aircraft.

Following discussions, OCCAR (Organisation Conjointe de Coopration en Matire d'Armement), representing Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Spain, Turkey, and United Kingdom signed the A400M program contract on December 18, 2001, committing to a total of 196 aircraft. This number has subsequently been revised downwards in the light of budgetary constraints, In December 2002 Berlin decided that it would cut its order for the Airbus A400M from 73 to 60. This was certain to raise the overall costs for all eight European countries involved in its production.

CASA, Aerospatiale, Airbus, Alenia, British Aerospace, DASA, Flabel, Ogma and TAI are taking part in A400M (anteriormente FLA, Future Large Aircraft) program under the management of Airbus Military. The company's responsibility is to manage the development program of the Airbus A400M military transport, formerly known as the FLA (Future Large Aircraft). The new designation denotes that the aircraft is the first of a new series of military transports, complementary to the existing range of civil airliners produced by Airbus Industrie.

In 1994 the UK decided to procure 25 C130J Hercules aircraft from Lockhead Martin as a first tranche replacement for its ageing C130K Hercules aircraft. The UK also rejoined the European program to determine the scope for replacing the remainder of the C130K fleet with the proposed Future Large Aircraft (now A400M). A competition was conducted by 4 of the 7 nations to consider the Boeing C-17 and Lockhead Martin C130J alongside the A400M.

The Strategic Defence Review (SDR) issued by the British Government in July 1998 made a very strong case for the need for a dramatically improved air transport capability to support the proposed Joint Rapid Reaction Forces. However, as of early 1999 the French Air Force was considering a range of options for a new military transport aircraft, including the Airbus Future Large Aircraft, the Russian An-70 and a mix of C-17s and C-130Js. Lockheed Martin has proposed the C-130J-30 to Belgium, France, Spain and the UK in competition with the proposed European Airbus A400M. The European home market for FLA represents some 300 aircraft. Outside Europe a sizeable market can be identified for a military transport aircraft in the FLA category.

Germany is leading a NATO partnership that will lease up to 20 C-17 or An-124 airlifters for use until the A400M is in full production. This would be the airlift-equivalent of NATO's E-3 Airborne Warning and Control System squadron. This initiative could see NATO either lease or purchase a squadron of heavy-lift aircraft, with the Boeing C-17 and the Ukrainian Antonov An-124 in the frame. While the latter candidate may prove politically attractive to Berlin, the C-17 option will provide interoperability with the US Air Force. The British have four C-17 aircraft on lease from Boeing, ostensibly as a stopgap until the A400M is delivered.

In January 2009 Airbus Military suggested to resume series production only once adequate maturity is reached, based on flight test results. With this proposed new approach, the first delivery of the A400M would then occur around three years after first flight. Airbus Military and EADS will only be able to reliably determine all financial implications once a committed industrial plan, including the availability of systems, is fully stabilized and once OCCAR's position on the proposal is known. This proposed new approach will not compromise the ultimate qualities and the exceptional characteristics of the airplane, with the most advanced logistic and tactical capabilities that will be delivered to the armed forces and will make A400M a unique airplane in its category.

In July 2008 France and the United Kingdom stated that they were committed to finding a positive outcome for the renegotiation of the A400M programme. The principle behind this renegotiation is that the company bear the consequences of the program delays and contribute to compensating for the resulting capability deficit. The two governments were open, on the basis of these principles, to amendments allowing the pursuit of the program under reasonable conditions. In late July 2009 defense ministers from the seven European nations that launched the troubled A400M military transport plane agreed to renegotiate the contract for the delayed project.

A400M Cost and Schedule

The program was launched in the spring of 2003 on the basis of 180 aircraft for seven European NATO nations, with first deliveries in 2009. Delivery of the first series aircraft were initially planned for the year 2005.

The acquisition price is only a portion of the total costs of owning and operating an aircraft. The Life Cycle Costs (LCC) are also affected by downstream operating costs such as fuel and maintenance. These will vary for each type of aircraft owing to many factors such as types of engine, aircraft size, and technology employed. A fair comparison can be obtained by calculating the LCC corresponding to the aircraft fleet required to perfom a typical mission.

A fleet of 50 A400M airlifters represents a US$ 4bn acquisition cost and a US$ 10bn 30-year life cycle cost. When compared to a corresponding fleet of competing aircraft required to perform identical missions, the A400M will have the lowest 30-year life cycle cost.

On 17 October 2007 EADS informed its A400M customers, including OCCAR, of its revised estimate for the first aircraft deliveries schedule. This will affect A400M deliveries to both European and other customer nations. A400M deliveries are now expected to start six months later than initially planned with a risk of a further slippage of up to a half year. The re-scheduling of the program was driven by the slow progress in engine development, which stood on the critical path to achieving first flight, schedule overruns in the systems development, and a flight test program that differs significantly from that of commercial Airbus aircraft. The first A400M was in production in the new final assembly line in Seville, Spain and was due to make its first flight in summer 2008. Sections of subsequent aircraft, which will join the flight test aircraft fleet, were also in production.

As of June 2009 Germany anticipated the first delivery of A400M military transport aircraft in 2014. Airbus Military remains on track to deliver the first production example of its A400M Atlas transport to the French air force during the second quarter of 2013, according to a financial update released by parent company EADS on 07 November 2012. A further three A400Ms would be delivered during 2013, comprising a further two examples for France and the first Atlas for the Turkish air force. The company planned to deliver 10 aircraft, including first deliveries to the U.K. and Germany in 2014.

A total of 184 aircraft had been ordered as of 2009 by Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Spain, Turkey and the United Kingdom. In November 2009 South Africa cancelled a multi-billion dollar contract for eight A400Ms, citing escalating costs and delivery delays. The aircraft was due to enter service with air forces in 2009, but this has now been put back to 2013.

Airbus stated as of 2003 that the A400M unit cost was around $80 million, but the national budget numbers at that time indicated that the unit costs was more likely to be $120 million-$130 million. The considerably less capable C-130J, a competing plane, sells for $67 million, which wxcludes the development cost reflected in A400M pricing. While the A400M program was officially valued at $17.5 billion, the actual costs were more likely to exceed $22 billion. By 2009 the program was about 5 billion euros ($7.4 billion) over budget and four years behind schedule.

A400M Design

The A400M will be the most advanced military Turboprop airlifter and will be fully equipped as an air-to-air refueller. The A400M has a classic high wing configuration, fuselage with ramp and large rear door, high flotation retractable landing gear and "T" tail. Its four turboprops provide it with a cruise speed of 0.72 mach at altitudes of up to 40,000 feet. Its cabin is 22.65 m long, including the ramp, 4 m wide at floor level and 3.85 m high, making it suitable for the transport of bulky cargo like helicopters, heavy vehicles, missile batteries and light vehicles placed side by side.

In June 1999 the M138 engine won in Airbus Industrie's downselect on engines to power its emerging A400M military transport. The M138 is jointly developed and manufactured by Snecma (France), MTU Mnchen (Germany), FiatAvio (Italy) and ITP (Spain). The M138's core is identical to that of Snecma's M88, which powers the French Rafale combat aircraft. The M138 also incorporates technologies matured under the Advanced Ducted Propfan (ADP) demonstrator project.

In May 2003 Airbus Military announced that the engine selected to power the A400M will be the TP400-D6, to be developed and manufactured by EPI (EuroProp International), a European consortium. The chosen engine, offered in response to a second RFP (Request for Proposal) issued by Airbus Military in April 2002, is an entirely new design in the ten thousand horsepower category, based on proven technology and incorporating three-shaft civil aero engine architecture. The TP400-D6 fully meets the required specification. The choice of the TP400-D6 was the result of an exhaustive evaluation of two separate engine proposals submitted by Pratt & Whitney Canada and EPI. EPI is a European joint venture company consisting of Rolls-Royce, Snecma Moteurs, MTU Aero Engines and Industria de Turbopropulsores (ITP), brought together to manage the programme. The TP400-D6 will be the most powerful turbo-prop engine ever produced in the western world and, combined with the aircraft's aerodynamic qualities, will make the A400M the world's fastest new-generation turbo-prop aircraft.

The A400M will offer longer range, higher payload and capacity, faster cruise speed, and improved levels of tactical performance compared to the aircraft it will replace. Through the use of proven advanced technology developed by Airbus Industrie and its partner companies, the A400M will also bring commercial levels of reliability and cost-effectiveness to military airlift operations.

An important argument in favor of the A400M is the changed geopolitical situation on account of which crisis-oriented and quick-reaction air transport increasingly gains in importance. As a result, the demand for transport aircraft for humanitarian and military applications, as for instance for UNO and NATO missions, continues to grow. Another reason lies in the fact that transporters such as the Transall C-160 and the Hercules C-130 which today are in operation throughout Europe will gradually have to be replaced with new aircraft.

As of late 2013, Airbus was reported to hope to be able to export 400 of the aircraft, taking into account that the production line for the larger C-17 Globemaster II is expected to end around 2015 and its other competitor is the smaller C-130 Hercules.

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