First UK A400M Named After the City of Bristol


2015-02-11 The UK has added new tankers and is starting the process of adding a new airlifter to its lift fleet, the A400M.

The arrival of the A400M at its new base in the UK was announced by the UK government as follows in a November 27, 2014 press release:

The first of the UK’s A400M Atlas next-generation military transport aircraft has today been officially unveiled by the MOD at its new home at RAF Brize Norton…..

With a cargo capacity of 32 tons and a hold optimized for carriage of heavy vehicles, helicopters or cargo pallets, the aircraft is capable of supporting a wide range of operational scenarios.

The UK is the third country to operate the aircraft, after France and Turkey and the £2.8 billion program will see a total of 22 aircraft delivered to the RAF in the coming years.

According to a February 9, 2015 story on the UK MoD website, the new aircraft is named after the City of Bristol and the reason becomes clear.

The UK’s first A400M Atlas has been named “City of Bristol” by the Royal Air Force in a rare honor to highlight the important role industry in the city has played in the delivery of the aircraft.

The wings of the next-generation military transporter plane were designed and manufactured at the Airbus factory in Filton, Bristol, with a number of other businesses in the city, including Rolls-Royce, GKN Aerospace, and Atkins, demonstrating a range of high quality aerospace skills which support the A400M programme.

A total of 22 A400M Atlas aircraft have been ordered by the Ministry of Defence’s procurement arm, Defence, Equipment and Support (DE&S), which is also based in the city at Abbey Wood.


The naming of the aircraft is a special privilege for Bristol, since it is unusual for the RAF to name an individual aircraft in this way.

Speaking at a ceremony at the Airbus site to mark the event, Defence Minister Philip Dunne said:

The A400M program has created or secured work for around 900 people at companies based here in Bristol and is providing skilled jobs in manufacturing, engineering and supply chain roles.

Many of these jobs require training to acquire specialist new skills needed to help keep the UK aerospace sector at the forefront of this high technology industry.

The MOD is playing its part in contributing to our long-term economic plan and this A400M program will become an important contributor to the defence supply chain, here in Bristol, for years to come.

To mark the honor, the “City of Bristol” A400M Atlas recently completed a fly-past of the Clifton Suspension Bridge which also served as a reminder of the engineering history of the city.

Chief of Materiel Air, Air Marshal Simon Bollom said:

The naming of the Royal Air Force’s first A400M aircraft as City of Bristol reflects a continuation of historical ties between Bristol and the Royal Air Force.

Bristol is at the heart of the UK aerospace community which has progressed through time and industry from the Bristol built engines like Jupiter – the most successful aero engine of the 1920s – through to famous jets such as Concorde.

This tradition continues with state of the art work being carried out at Airbus’s Filton site on wings for the A400M, supported by complex work packages from GKN, Rolls-Royce and Atkins and this rare naming honour is recognition for the long and entrenched affiliation between the City of Bristol and British aviation.

Manufactured by Airbus Defence & Space the A400M Atlas will replace the existing fleet of C-130 Hercules and represents major advances on its predecessor, with it capable of flying considerably faster, twice as far and able to carry almost twice as much cargo.