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Because of its configuration of four engines, the A400M is often compared and compete with the Lockheed C-130 Hercules. In reality, there is much greater, located closer to the C-17 Globemaster.

The A400M can be classified as strategic carrier and its versatility allows it even to be used as a tanker aircraft. One potential competitor is the Antonov An-70 which corresponds roughly to the specifications of the A400M and is already flying since 1997 (its development was slowed considerably by the withdrawal of the project for political reasons, Russia). However, in terms of area and volume of cargo, the A400M has an advantage and better aerodynamic profile of the A400M allows it to use a less powerful turboprop performance comparable both in payload, that speed scope. The estimated cost of an AN70 is approximately that of a C130 Hercules or about half an A400M. However, its construction is necessary to develop and maintain the skills necessary for such projects and this program comes entirely through the construction of European defense. Benefiting from the synergies of the range of Airbus, is built largely with composite materials that offer many advantages, especially in stealth radar. As for other Airbus parts of the aircraft will be manufactured by several countries.

The 400M is equipped with tires at low pressure and high surface area and can use unprepared (dirt tracks, etc..).

Direction of rotation of the propellers

Propellers in DBE Configuration

One detail is very important: the concept DBE (Down Between Engines), that is to say "blade down between the engines. On each half-wing, the rotation of the propellers of the two motors is reversed, the downward movement of the blades occurring between engines around the middle of the wing, so that the flow of the breath of blades is concentrated.

This configuration was chosen primarily to minimize the asymmetry that occurs in case of engine failure and even more particularly to an external motor (which is common on military aircraft in a theater of operation). But it also has many implications: less effort on the wing, thus easing possible structure, thereby increasing lift. Moreover, the size of the drift has been reduced, which provides extra range or carrying a heavier payload for the same amount of fuel


Autonomy Airbus A400M. Red: With a payload of 30 tons, the range is 4500 km. Green: With 20 tons, that - it extends to 6600 km

The hold of the A400M is 17.71 m long, 4 meters wide and 3.85 m high. Covering an area of 92 m 2 and a cargo volume of 340 m 3, it can accommodate 9 standard military pallets, 116 troops with their equipment, or 66 stretchers and a medical team of 25 people. In standard configuration, the A400M can carry 37 tons of cargo (including in a typical pallet) The aircraft could parachute to 16 tons (test Toulouse).

The configurations in carrying cargo

In military mission, the A400M may charter:
two 5-ton trucks and two 105 mm guns;
or three armored personnel carriers;
or a launch vehicle with Patriot missiles;
or two attack helicopters type Tigre.

Humanitarian mission, the A400M may charter:
six Land Rover with their trailers:
or semi-trailer exceeding 25 tonnes;
or an excavator with a truck yard;
or a mobile crane.

Technical overview

Camera     Antonov An-124     Lockheed C-5 Galaxy     Boeing C-17     Ilyushin Il-76 Candid     Antonov An-70     Airbus A400M     C-130 Hercules     C-160 Transall     Antonov AN-22
Max Weight (t)     405     380     259     190     133     141     79.4     54     250
Length (m)     69.10     75.54     53.04     46.59     40.73     45.1     29.79     32.40     57.90
Wingspan (m)     73.30     67.88     51.74     50.50     44.06     42.40     40.41     40.00     64.40
Height (m)     21.08     19.85     16.8     14.76     16.38     14.6     11.84     11.78     12.53
Cargo Area (m 2)     230.4     214.6     147.2     89.1     76.4     92     38.5     42.5     133.6
Cargo Volume (m 3)     1 013.76     1 200     553.63     302.9     313.24     340     162.12     126.72     587.84
Max. of payload (t)     150     131     77.5     47     47     37     20.41     16     80
Maximum speed (km / h)     750     918     930     850     750     881     618     526     760
Range (km)     4 800 (120 t)     5 520 (136 t)     4 492 (77 t)     3 800 (47 t)     6 600 (20 t)     6 600 (20 t)     4 150 (16 t)     1 850 (16 t)     5 000 (80 t)
Cruise Altitude (m)     11 600     10 895     13 716     12 500     12 000     12 300     7 010     8 500     8 000
Take-off distance (m)     2 500     2 438     2 360     1 800     1 500     1 440     1 200     650     1 400

Technical issues and revision of specifications

End 2008, the nine program partners were willing to scale back some specifications of the device and renounce the contractual financial penalties for delays provided that Airbus would provide no later than mid-January 2009 a precise inventory of the situation and risks Finally, in the summer of 2009, the moratorium is extended The problem of the A400M are:

  • the turboprop: unavailability of turboprop TP400 due to problems on the digital controller engine Full Authority (FADEC). The FADEC is available, is functional. But as has been developed by the MTU without Traceability for its civil certification, it had to completely take over the work and certifiable software was delivered in June 2009. Improvements will be integrated, but then they are not necessary for the first flight of the aircraft Validation tests on the integration bench in Toulouse have been very successful so that a first review of the agency responsible for certification, EASA. Certification is expected in October. the engine itself is continuing its tests on the flying test bed (FTB, C-130K) and these trials have validated the flight envelope of TP400 for the first flight of the A400M, which is provided by the manufacturer in December
  • the mass: the A400M is still suffering from an overload of 12 tons compared to the specification This surcharge is due to the new system of civil certification;
  • the airworthiness: initially presented as an advantage the high speed of the A400M (Mach 0,68-0,72) that integrate in commercial air transport results in a highly complex embedded software;
  • the autopilot: Thales has problems in the development of a flight computer that meet the specifications;
  • track field: EADS has problems in the development of software Terrain Referenced Navigation System (TRN) to meet specifications. This delay is mainly due to the adaptation of software to the civil certification

According to Peter Scoffham, vice president of marketing project to solve the problem of civil certification, a maximum number of items will be certified according to European civil and what can not be certified in this manner will be at the state level like any military aircraft.

The manufacturer announces first delivery beginning in 2013 instead of 2009 and the armies will not have enough aircraft before 2013 or 2014. Also the Air Force is studying the French any purchase or lease of U.S. transport planes, or 10 to 12 C-130J or three McDonnell Douglas C-17 Globemaster III, or even possibly hire three AN22 renovated and modernized with Antonov (Ukraine) still in stock.