SINGAPORE — The may still be undergoing flight testing, but the company is confident it can deliver four aircraft to customers in 2013.
Three will be delivered to France next year and one to Turkey, according to Didier Vernet, head of market development for the airlifter. In 2014 the company aims to deliver 10 aircraft, including first deliveries to the U.K. and Germany, Vernet tells Aviation Week.
Vernet says the A400M’s civil certification program had achieved around 1,150 flights and 3,500 flying test hours as of July 8. First flight was in December 2009. The company is aiming for a total of 3,700 flying hours to achieve civil certification, but once that milestone is achieved, it will do an additional 700 flight-test hours, Vernet says. Civil certification will come by year’s end, he adds.
Becauseis trying for civil certification, it has had to conduct exercises to ensure the A400M can evacuate 119 paratroopers within 90 sec., Vernet says.
There are still some major flight-test milestones remaining, such as air-to-air refueling. The aircraft is primarily a passenger and cargo transporter, but pods can be attached under the wings to turn the A400M into an aerial refueler.
“We’ve been doing work with the receiver but [have] not done it with fuel yet,” Vernet says. He says tests must be carried out to see that the A400M can refuel helicopters and fighters. Malaysia’s air force, which has ordered four A400Ms, has committed to buying the pods and kits so it can use its A400Ms as aerial tankers, Vernet says.
Military still has to do air drops of cargo and paratroopers, as well as additional hard and soft landings and more cold weather and hot temperature tests, Vernet says. Also yet to be flight tested are the aircraft’s air defense systems, such as chaff and flares.
There are five A400Ms flying in the certification program. Vernet says one aircraft, manufacturer’s serial number four, will be kept for future tests, until at least 2018.