Today marks another key milestone in the A400M military transport aircraft programme, with Airbus delivering the first pair of A400M wings from the UK to Seville, Spain, where aircraft final assembly is taking place.
As the wings left Airbus' Filton, Bristol site today on an Airbus A300-600ST super transporter aircraft - known as the 'Beluga' - Charles Paterson, Head of the A400M Wing Team said: "This is a major milestone for the A400M programme and marks the combined efforts of the trans-national A400M wing team over the last four years. The team has done an excellent job to produce this component to such a high standard and on time.
"Today also represents a major achievement in Airbus wing technology, as A400M features the first-ever composite (carbon fibre reinforced plastic, CFRP) outer wingbox for an Airbus-built aircraft and we believe this to be the largest composite wing ever made."
The first set of wings to be delivered is destined for the A400M static test aircraft. On arrival in Seville, at EADS CASA, the wings will be joined to the 'centre wingbox' which arrived from Airbus in France on 28th March. When joined, as a single complete structure with a total span of 42.4 metres, the wing will be transported by road to Getafe in Madrid, where it will be fitted to the A400M static test fuselage in preparation for testing.
Firm orders for A400M now stand at 192 aircraft; 180 in the original order for seven European NATO nations through OCCAR (i.e. 60 for Germany; 50 for France; 27 for Spain; 25 for the UK; 10 for Turkey; seven for Belgium andone for Luxembourg) plus 12 aircraft ordered by two further customers (eight aircraft for South Africa and four for Malaysia).
Airbus is an EADS company.
The A400M wing team is managed by Airbus UK, which is responsible for the entire wing, tip to tip and the management and integration of the other involved industrial partners - Airbus Deutschland; Airbus Espana; Airbus France; TAI of Turkey, Flabel of Belgium, Aerosud of South Africa, CTRM of Malaysia and EADS-CASA.
Airbus UK is also responsible for the wing assembly and delivery and its Filton site is seeing over 200 million Euros of investment in A400M infrastructure during the period from 2003-2008.