SHAH ALAM: IN my previous post on RMAF A400Ms, I stated that the additional capabilities for the three already delivered air-lifters could be done locally. It appears that I wrote erroneously as the work needed are only available overseas.
Fernando Alonso, Head of Military Aircraft, Airbus Defence and Space says that the upgrading work need to be done at the A400M final assembly line in Seville, Spain. He said the work on the third aircraft delivered to RMAF – M54-03 – will be shorter than 01 and 02 as it has been delivered with more features compared to the first two.
However, the upgrading will likely be needed after 2018 as only by that time, the final configuration of the A400M will be certified.
Alonso says that the fourth A400M for RMAF will be fitted with the latest tactical configuration. However, due to the much publicized technical issues which affected the delivery schedule of the airlifter, it will probably be ready for delivery only in next January or February.
Alonso was speaking to the media yesterday on the second day of his visit to Malaysia. This was his first visit Malaysia after taking over at Airbus Defence and Space two years ago. He said he could not come sooner as he was consumed by efforts to revive the troubled A400M programme.
The fourth aircraft will be delivered with defensive aid sub-system (DASS), air-to-air refueling (receiving and providing fuel) and the ability to deliver up to 25 tonnes of cargo as reported previously.
Alonso confirmed that RMAF was also affected by the engine problems though only one engine from the 16 installed on the three A400Ms already delivered need to be replaced. However, like the other A400Ms, RMAF had to curtail the flight hours of its aircraft as engineers had to check the engines manually. Initially the checks were conducted for every 40 hours of flight before it was raised to 100 hours recently.
Alonso said as temporary fix had been certified, the interval for the engine checks have been increased to 600 hours. A permanent solution to the problem is still being worked out though Alonso was confident that it will be resolved soon.
Maanwhile, Alonso said Airbus is eyeing the region as potential market for its military transport aircraft. He says that this strategic region is a natural market for Airbus’ military aircraft across the board from light to medium aircraft such as the C295 and the technologically advanced airlifter A400M.
Alonso said: “Our military aircraft are able to fill a real gap in the market responding to today’s regional challenges. Governments in the region are aware of the need to replace ageing equipment based on old designs and technologies. New assets will bring long-term cost savings while meeting the region’s unique requirements.”
“We are extremely proud that Malaysia is the first export customer for the airlifter. It is very important for us to ensure that RMAF’s A400M experience meets expectations as the Malaysian Air Force serves as our ambassador for the region,” said Alonso.
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