New RAF Brize Norton Atlas transport aircraft heads for runway

The RAF’s first A400M Atlas, airframe number MSN015, on the Airbus production line in Seville

Flt Lt Chris Aston, left, and Lt Col Ben Paillard in the cockpit of the A400M flight simulator

First published in News by

RAF Brize Norton’s first Airbus A400M Atlas heavy transport plane is nearing completion at Airbus’s factory in Spain.

And personnel from the air station are in Seville undergoing training on the plane, ahead of its arrival in West Oxfordshire later this year.

The turboprop aircraft will replace the base’s Hercules fleet and combine the Hercules’s ability to land on rough airstrips with the long range of the RAF’s Boeing C17 Globemaster jets.

The Atlas can carry 32 tonnes of cargo, including armoured vehicles and helicopters, or 116 paratroops and their equipment.

The RAF has 22 planes on order, at a cost of more than £3.2bn. Once training and testing are complete, the first operational flights are expected to be made next March.

Flight Lieutenant Chris Aston, 34, a former Hercules pilot and a member of 24 Squadron, and French air force pilot Lieutenant Colonel Ben Paillard, 36, a previous exchange officer with the RAF’s 47 Squadron, are both learning to fly the aircraft in a simulator.

Flt Lt Aston said: “It has been good to get different ideas in the way we operate. The main aim is for interoperability; to make sure, for example, that a British aircraft could fly to a French airfield, pick up a French load and fly it somewhere and they wouldn’t see any difference in the way we operate.”

Ahead of the first Atlas’s arrival at Brize Norton, RAF loadmasters and avionics technicians are also learning how to operate the aircraft.

Brize Norton-based maintenance mechanic Corporal Lloyd Hill, 32, is training in Seville to be an instructor.

He said: “I saw the A400M fly at the air tattoo at RAF Fairford and really liked it and applied for the programme, though I didn’t expect to get a place.

“There are a lot of modern systems on the aircraft and I’m excited to see it up close and see what it can do. The next phase of training will be on the assembly line and on handling the aircraft.”

Speaking after a recent visit to the Airbus factory, the officer commanding 2 Group, Air Vice Marshal Sean Reynolds, said: “As part of bringing the aircraft into RAF service, our people, including aircrew, engineers and support crew, are currently preparing at the international training centre to operate the aircraft.

Witney Gazette:

Cpl Lloyd Hill in the Airbus technical training centre

“Atlas will bring a unique capability to the RAF fleet, with combined strategic and tactical abilities ensuring that it will be a key capability in the decades to come. RAF Brize Norton has an exciting future as it prepares to operate our newest aircraft.” The wings for the Atlas are made at Filton, near Bristol, and the computer software is also developed in the UK.

Rolls-Royce is a partner in Europrop, which developed the plane’s 11,000-horsepower TP400 engines.

The first plane was delivered to the French air force last September.

Comments (2)

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1:39pm Thu 17 Apr 14

jennie65 says...

And all the people of Carterton want to know is - is it a noisy as the Hercules and do they need to run the engines for hours and hours.
And all the people of Carterton want to know is - is it a noisy as the Hercules and do they need to run the engines for hours and hours. jennie65
  • Score: -1

7:58pm Fri 18 Apr 14

skcollob says...

No, they dont care, as they know they will get used to them no matter what noise they make, otherwise they would not be living there, as they are not stupid enough to live next to the largest RAF base in the country if they do not like aircraft noise. I saw one land last year (from my back garden) they are actually much quieter than the VC10`s and Tristars, which have now gone, and a bit quieter than the Hercs.
No, they dont care, as they know they will get used to them no matter what noise they make, otherwise they would not be living there, as they are not stupid enough to live next to the largest RAF base in the country if they do not like aircraft noise. I saw one land last year (from my back garden) they are actually much quieter than the VC10`s and Tristars, which have now gone, and a bit quieter than the Hercs. skcollob
  • Score: 1

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