Airbus has rolled out its first A400M military transport plane at a ceremony at the factory in Seville, southern Spain where it was assembled.
The much delayed aircraft, which has cost 20 billion euros to develop, will supply seven NATO countries with urgently needed strategic airlift capacity, replacing aging C130 Hercules and C-160 Transalls.
An audience of dignitaries and EADS top management watched the presentation of the new plane and which was presided over by Spain’s King Juan Carlos. He said: “The challenge has been to build a product of very high technical capability, able to meet the highest aeronautical requirements in the world and tactical and logistics transport needs.”
The next step will be the successful testing of the new turboprop engines. Problems with them have delayed the project. They are being made by a consortium led by Britain’s Rolls Royce and Snecma of France. At the rollout, Airbus said the problems have been largely overcome. It also confirmed that the plane’s maiden flight could take place in September or October with delivery of the first planes in 2010, that is six to 12 months behind the original schedule.