19 Desember 2015
M54-02 taking off for a test flight at Seville on Dec 15. (photo : Malaysian Defence)
SHAH ALAM: THE second RMAF A400M airflifter – M54-02 – is currently undergoing flight tests in Seville, Spain prior to the handing over and the flight home. The aircraft is undergoing a battery of tests under the watchful eyes of a RMAF acceptance team.
As reported previously the aircraft was supposed to fly home in December. However industry sources told Malaysian Defence that it was more likely that the flight is expected next year though the exact timing remained uncertain.
The delay was unavoidable as the manufacturer of the A400M, was under pressure from other buyers to deliver their aircraft first. The fatal crash in May – which caused a temporary test flight pause – is the main reason for the delays in delivery.
During the test flights and until the aircraft is accepted by RMAF, the aircraft will carry the EC400 registration number. This is the same flight number for all the A400M undergoing flight and acceptance tests at Seville. Note that the serial number of the aircraft on the vertical tail is covered.
What does this mean on the delivery of the third and fourth A400M then? It is likely that the third aircraft will be delivered in late 2016. And the fourth will be coming home in early 2017 at the earliest.
In the meantime, Kementerian Pertahanan has issued a tender for the supply of two fuel tankers with the capacity of 4000 IG. The tankers are part of the support services for the A400M squadron. As for the reason why the tender was not issued earlier prior to the delivery of the aircraft – already slated this year – is beyond me.
Anyhow at least we know that the three hangars built for the A400M and the ILS contract are already up and running.