New A400M Transport Plane Unveiled
These days it seems that new airplanes are being unveiled every day and Airbus certainly isn’t missing out on the action. After a glittering unveiling ceremony in Spain on June 26, Airbus unveiled their new A400M military transport plane.
Though the aircraft is already behind schedule, Airbus is enthusiastic that aircraft development is running full-steam ahead and that the A400M will only continue to suffer a 6 – 12 month delay in deliveries. If everything continues to go ahead according to schedule, Airbus Military should be conducting the first test flight of the A400M by the goal months of September or October. The CEO of Airbus Military hopes that the company will be able to deliver their first planes to the French air force by late 2010 or possibly even slightly earlier.
Like its predecessor, the Lockheed Martin C-130 Hercules cargo aircraft, and its European sister, the C-160 Transall, the A400M is no head-turner. The grey aircraft is a large, hulking aircraft that features four black propellers and a black nose. However, what it lacks in looks, it makes up for in brute strength and it is easy to see that the new transport aircraft was designed to serve primarily as a military work-horse. Once completed, the multi-role aircraft will be able to perform a number of functions, including dropping supplies such as tents, blankets and food as part of relief operations and acting as a refueling tanker. The new aircraft makes use of state-of-the-art materials and technology to ensure that it packs a mighty punch. Once completed it should have twice the capacity and payload of its predecessors.
During the rollout ceremony acrobatic airplanes performed dazzling aerial stunts before the first complete aircraft was rolled out of hangar at the Airbus factory. The aircraft on display will be the first one to undergo test flights and is the first complete version of the A400M. No doubt King Juan Carlos was intrigued by the complex instrument panels fitted in the aircraft as he sat in the plane’s cockpit during a tour. The new plane is just one step in a massive military procurement program. Orders for the new aircraft have already increased to 192 since the project was started in 2003 and will no doubt continue to climb as the aircraft nears completion.