A400M Gears Up For First Flight

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The first flight of a production-standard A400M, Airbus Military's heavy airlifter, is expected to take place in the first week of March. The first aircraft, MSN0007, for the French Air Force, was rolled out of the paint-shop several months ago. Airbus Military expect to deliver 4 A400Ms this year, 10 in 2014, 21 in 2015, rising to a maximum output of 30 per year thereafter. This year's deliveries include one for Turkey and three for France, with Germany and the U.K. expecting their first aircraft in 2015.

The A400M fits somewhere between a C-130J and a C-17 in terms of payload and range, but with 4 economical turboprops, and the end of the C-17 line in sight, it should pick up more sales once deliveries get under way. Currently 174 are on order for 8 nations, according to Aviation Week Intelligence Network's Fleet database.

Two aircraft are seen here on the production line.

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