Airbus Military’s A400M transport has been formally named the Atlas by its European customer nations, during a rain-affected ceremony at the Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT).
UK Royal Air Force chief of the air staff Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Dalton was given the responsibility of naming the A400M, which he says will “give air forces the ability to project air power directly into the battlespace”.
Airbus Military managing director Domingo Ureña thanked his company’s customers for “maintaining their faith, and funding, even through difficult times,” referring to a more than three-year delay in the start of production deliveries.
The first of a combined 174 A400Ms on order for Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Spain, Turkey, the UK and export buyer Malaysia will be delivered to the French air force in early 2013. Airbus Military has officially dropped an earlier ambition to hand the aircraft over late this year, due to a delay caused by a new problem with the Europrop International TP400-D6 engine. However, it notes that its contractual requirement is to deliver the first Atlas by the end of March next year.
Aircraft MSN6, which is on static display at RIAT at RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire, southern England this weekend and also to be on the ground at the Farnborough air show next week, encountered the issue during an intensive period of function and reliability testing. Metal chips were detected inside one engine, which has now been replaced.
Airbus Military is waiting on an inspection of the turboprop engine to determine whether the problem was a one-off issue, or whether it could affect other TP400s and potentially rule out the 160h of reliability testing conducted so far with MSN6.