Confident Airbus Touts A400M

Airbus’ A400M military airlifter came out of the Paris Air Show with a head of steam, attracting prospective customers and putting on an acrobatic flying display roughly a month after a fatal A400M crash in Seville, Spain, grounded the fleet. Several European countries already buy the aircraft, and despite developmental troubles, Christian Scherer, Airbus’ executive vice president for defense and space marketing and sales, said he is feeling confident about the world market, even the US market. “In terms of product positioning, it’s a salesman’s dream,” Scherer told Air Force Magazine earlier this month at the air show in Le Bourget, France. With a dozen airframes delivered, the A400M today “does the job of two and a half C-130s, and two-thirds of a C-17, plus things a C-17 can’t do,” he said. It’s a capability that “nobody else has,” he added. The French military pressed the A400M into service during operations in Mali in January 2015, marking the type’s combat debut. There are developmental improvements remaining, said Scherer, such as maturing the airplane’s self-protection systems and air-to-air refueling capabilities. “For new customers, that won’t be an issue [by 2018],” he said. On June 16, the Royal Air Force lifted flight restrictions on its A400Ms. The Spanish government followed two days later, clearing the way for Airbus’ deliveries to resume.