RMAF’s Atlas In Service Support

RMAF second Atlas,, M54-02, after under going its paint job.

SEVILLE, SPAIN: UNDER a a contract called Full In Service Support (FISS), Airbus Defence and Space (Airbus DS) is not only providing maintenance for RMAF’s A400M Atlas fleet but also logistics,training and information services management. Flight service and operations are also provided under the same programme.

In Malaysia, Airbus is working with Sepang Aircraft Engineering Sdn Bhd for the FISS programme. Airbus owns 40 per cent of Sepang Aircraft Engineering.

Flight and technical training for RMAF personnel is still being conducted at Airbus DS facility in Seville, Spain, however.

French Air Force Atlas (top) and Airbus DS A400M Grizzly (test aircraft). Malaysian Defence)
French Air Force Atlas (top) and Airbus DS A400M Grizzly (test aircraft). Malaysian Defence)

The four-year FISS was signed this year after the first A400M for the RMAF was delivered in March. The first Atlas, M54-01 was unveiled at LIMA 2015 show in Langkawi.

According to Airbus Transport Aircraft Services head of operations Stephan A. Miegel, RMAF is the fourth operator of the A400M which selected FISS for its fleet. The other operators are Royal Air Force, Turkish Air Force and French Air Force.

A Turkish A400M Atlas undergoing tests prior to a test flight at the Airbus DS facility in Seville, Spain.
A Turkish A400M Atlas undergoing tests prior to a test flight at the Airbus DS facility in Seville, Spain.

He said other users of the Airbus military transport fleet like the A330 MRTT and C295 aircraft have also selected FISS to support their fleet. Among them are Australia, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Spain and Singapore

Apart from transport aircraft, fighter jets such as the Eurofighter Typhoon and the Panavia Tornado also come under the ambit FISS programme, though their type of contracts varies from country to country.

Miegel said the RMAF and Airbus worked together in Toulouse for 2 years ahead of the delivery of the first aircraft, which was reflected in the high mission success rate since its introduction into service.

A Luftwaffe A400M Atlas undergoing checks at Airbus DS facility in Spain.
A Luftwaffe A400M Atlas undergoing checks at Airbus DS facility in Spain.

He was speaking at the Airbus Trade Media Briefing 2015 at the Airbus DS facility in Seville last week.

According to Meigel, the A400M fleet including RMAF has recorded a 91 per cent availability rates since entering service.

The second Atlas for RMAF – MSN36 – is expected to be delivered in December, pending the successful completion of its flight test. When Malaysian Defence visited the A400M final assembly facility, MSN36 was undergoing systems checks after the completion of the mating process of the fuselage and the wings.

Atlas MSN36 - destined to be RMAF second Atlas - is undergoing tests prior to assembly at Airbus DS facility in Seville.
Atlas MSN36 – destined to be RMAF second Atlas – is undergoing tests prior to assembly at Airbus DS facility in Seville.

MSN36 is undergoing full system check prior to ground engines run, flight tests and painting prior to pre-delivery acceptance. If all goes well, the future M54-02 is expected to fly to its home base in Subang in December.

A cockpit part of an Atlas being mated to a fuselage at the Airbus DS A400M final assembly facility.
A cockpit part of an Atlas being mated to a fuselage at the Airbus DS A400M final assembly facility.

The third RMAF Atlas is expected to undergo same assembly process soon and is expected to be delivered to RMAF before mid-2017 with the last one expected to fly home by the end of that year.

–Malaysian Defence

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About Marhalim Abas 2184 Articles
Shah Alam


  1. FISS,interesting practice of aftersales service. Regarding additional capabilities for A400M which in the development process (like heli air refuel,paratrop jump from both side door etc) are these additionals will be installed into TUDM a/craft?

    It will be covered in the next posting..

  2. I Nimitz,

    I’m afraid that the heli AAR will never take place on grizzly. The program is unofficially killed as it now resulting the France to acquire KC-130 to refuel their Special Ops Caracal. The strong propwash generated from large contra rotating engine keep deny the operation from being done. As per latest progress, the Airbus Mil said they will study the AAR and side door parajump, and putting 2017-2018 as their target for operating capability. But still in study mode, no yet solution founded till now.


    As per now, how many times our grizzly are needed on operational basis and for what ? what cargo do we need a grizzle to transport em ? I still look this project as a non-requirement by RMAF. A batch of C295 or a MPA still a lot useful than acquiring 4 grizzle which we may never use in nearby times. People keep talking about tactical transport of caracal, tanks, mbt to the ESSCOM but do we need em now ? and how often a conflict occur in the region that need a tactical transport to carry mbt ? Even Nato is utilising An-124 or friendly nation C-17,C5 to carry their armament because it is not economical to maintain a capability that we doesnt need just for a 4-5 times use in 5 year period maybe. Is it true prior to operation Daulat, the Adnan is carried on by friendly C-17 to Tawau AFB, all this time I tough and heard that the Adnan/KIFV is transferred there by comercial ro-ro.

  3. Helicopter refueling? I didn’t know we have such probes on our helicopters.


    The AAR is expected to be cleared next year, helicopter refueling is an issue at the moment with A400M at the moment. Its likely it will not happened more on this in the next posting

  4. For its A400Ms the RAF specified a strengthened ramp and cabin floor.

    It is to be expected that the A400M, having more computers and other gadgets on board, will be more expensive to run than a C-130J; would be interesting to find out how much more expensive.

    RAF Atlas also got a different DASS. More importantly our Atlas has all the bell and whistles apart from the RAF DASS of course unlike other platforms we got.

  5. Marhalim,

    What’s your prediction? In 10-15 years time; will we be flying an all A400M fleet or will we have a mix of A400Ms and C-130Js?

    Personally, even if we had the cash, I doubt that going for an all A400M fleet makes sense; for our needs it’s just not practical. Sure, the extra range and space the A400M has over the
    C-130J can be useful but how often will we need that extra space? As it is, the CN-235s are often used when the amount of cargo doesn’t justify using a C-130H.

    Probably an Atlas only fleet supplemented by C295s.

  6. Using a A400M for cloud seeding could be more expensive than using a C-130H. Plus I’m not sure what major benefits would be obtained from using a A400M for such a purpose; given that the C-130H and CN-235 can do it.

    Even if it is more expensive compared to using other planes in RMAF fleet the Atlas will be expected to share some of the responsibility of the other transport squadrons. Just like the Sukhois are expected to conduct ground attack.

  7. I would forsee the RMAF transport fleet would be equipped with a400m, hercules and cn235 for quite sometime.

    Probably with the addition of the a400m, a few of the hercules could be configured with quick change/ro-ro maritime surveillance equipments.

  8. A400M is a wonderful cargo/transport plane. But the important thing is it met the need effectively and efficiently. Not to mention how often the need of big and long range cargo are needed while there are big cargo plane available for rent.

    ATM is not a big force. TNI is bigger and indonesia is a big country obviously they need a bigger transport plane than ATM but news said TNI preffered C130J over A400M or other bigger plane to replace their old C130B.

    IMO, The Atlas is the same mistake when mindef decided to build 12 variants gempita. It is overkill. In this case oversize.

  9. I wonder if the RMAF has a requirement for additional transports in the CN-235 weight/size category. To think that we originally intended to buy 32 CN-235s from IPTN!

    For the next decade, the existing transports assets – fix wing and rotary – plus the long delayed upgrade for the Charlie and Nuri should be sufficient for our existing requirements. Unless if course something breaks out and the RMAF is forced to operate at a high tempo for a sustained period.

    Good point about the C-130s and conversion into MPAs. After full deliveries of the A400M; if we find that 15 Charlies are superfluous for our medium/ long range lift needs, converting a few Charlies into MPAs would make sense.

  10. Romeo,

    The fact that Indonesia has not ordered or shown interest in the A400M might be due to prevailing politics or the new to concentrate on other areas.

    I can see why we would have a need for something larger than the C-130 and the need for a few A400Ms but I can’t see us operating an all A400M fleet once the C-130s are retired. On paper, it can be argued that instead of ordering A400Ms we should have ordered more C -235s and proceeded with a C-130 upgrade.

    There will be times when we need the A400M or C-130 but there will bedtimes where the cargo consists of just a couple of pallets; this is where the CN-235 would come in.

  11. I believe C-130 will be around at least until 2040, which by that time maybe Lockheed/Boeing will come up with a future C-XXX. This is assuming USAF want a next-gen airlifter.

  12. There are even times that even the cn235 is too large. Sometimes you see in papers that mercy flight of 1 sick person is flown with a hercules!

    The cessna 402 was retired without a replacement. Something like the pilatus pc-24 would be good, with quick change interior, cargo door and unpaved runway operating capability.

  13. Given that mercy flights are time sensitive; the nearest available aircraft is often given the tasking. The bulk of mercy flights conducted the past few decades have been by Nuris : would be nice if MINDEF or the RMAF would release figures, which probably runs in the thousands.

    Not sure if the 402s performed mercy flights. One role they did perform, apart from multi-engine training, navigational training and light transport, was photo mapping.

    Apart from tri-service lift needs, the
    CN-235s are also used to ferry personnel shows in Singapore and to support visits by high ranking military people to places like the Philippines. Like the Charlies the CN-235s also support the IMT in Mindanao.

  14. Saw a A400M flying low over my neighborhood today. For a brief second, it looked like a C-17; one of which was in Subang a few days ago to fly back the remains of an air plane crew that crashed here decades ago.

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