The Global Tour of the A400M


The A400M is entering its final phases of testing before entering service, initially for the French military.  Most recently, the A400M came to the air show in Chile and was highlighted by Airbus military while at that show.  Now it is about to start and Asian tour.

The A400M in South America. Credit Photo: Airbus Military

According to an Airbus Military press release:

The Airbus Military A400M new generation airlifter recently visited La Paz, Bolivia as part of a series of high-altitude performance tests. Grizzly 2 completed a number of flights from the airport at La Paz which is more than 13,000ft above mean sea level. Operations from high-altitude airports like La Paz are challenging because of the low air density. The tests took place shortly after the aircraft visited the FIDAE airshow in Chile, and Lima, Peru during its first deployment to Latin America. Airbus Head of Flight and Integration Tests, Fernando Alonso said: “High altitude testing is a critical part of the overall flight-test programme which will ensure that we deliver on our performance guarantees to customers. I am pleased to say that the early results from these trials have been very positive.”

And now the A400M will soon start its Asian tour.

Again according to an Airbus Military press release:

The Airbus Military A400M new generation airlifter for the 21st Century, is to visit Asia between April 14 and 20. Malaysia, an A400M customer, is the first and longest stop of its three-nation Asia tour, with the aircraft staying there from 14 – 17 April. The tour continues with visits to Jakarta, Indonesia, and Chiang Mai and Bangkok, Thailand, before returning to Europe.

The visit, the first time that the A400M will be seen in Asia, will give the Malaysian Government and Air Force a chance to see the A400M at first hand. The Malaysian Government has ordered four of the new aircraft, which has as its launch customer nations Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Spain, Turkey and the UK.

The aircraft that will be flown for the Asia Pacific tour is Grizzly 4, one of the five development aircraft.

For the Malaysian leg of the tour, the A400M will be welcomed by the Chief of the Royal Malaysian Air Force on 15 April at the Subang Airbase. The aircraft will then remain there on static display, for visits by the Minister of Defence, Royal Malaysian Air Force personnel and invited guests who will be participating at Defence Services Asia 2012. Demonstration flights will take place over the following days with selected Air Forces and VIP guests.

Grizzly 4 will then fly to Jakarta, Indonesia, on 18th April where it will be based for a day at the Halim airbase. Government and Air Force guests will be able to visit the aircraft and participate in a demonstration flight to get a firsthand experience of the outstanding capabilities of the A400M. Airbus Military’s long standing partner in Indonesia, PT Dirgantara Indonesia, is supporting and facilitating the Grizzly’s visit to Indonesia.

On 19th April, the aircraft will leave for Thailand with a visit to the Chiang Mai airbase first, participating in the 100th anniversary celebrations of the Royal Thai Air Force, followed by a flight with the Royal Thai Air Force on board to Don Muang International Airport in Bangkok. Various Government and Air Force guests will visit the aircraft during this static display. The aircraft will then return to Europe on the 20th of April.

In a recent note on his personal website, the head of EADS communications, Pierre Bayle underscored the importance of the Latin American visit of the A400M:

For its first trip outside Europe, Airbus Military had chosen to fly by the Andean peaks at the International Defense Exhibition and Aeronautics (FIDAE) of Santiago, Chile. One of five aircraft currently involved in the test campaigns was flow to the show and it was loaded with test equipment (12 tons of instruments) and with a crew of twenty people among test pilots, engineers, and technicians. During the visit there was a fairly intensive test program, including landings and takeoffs at high altitude. In Cochabamba (Bolive), where the airport is located at 8,360 feet (2,550 m), the capacity of the aircraft was tested in conditions of “hot and high” heat and high altitude, with the dual effect of lower atmospheric pressure, therefore less lift and less oxygen, thus decreasing the power of the engines.

We have written frequently about the evolution of this aircraft, and have some unique postings on what matters most to us, the impact on concepts of operations.