A CAD image of the A400M Part Task Trainer shows it reproducing the “kneeling” maneuver the aircraft can undertake to ease loading and unloading. (Dytecna)
LONDON — The U.K. Ministry of Defence has ordered three part-task trainers in anticipation of the new Airbus Military A400M Atlas transport aircraft to train rear cabin crew.
The first A400Ms are to be delivered to the French Air Force in the next few weeks, though the U.K. Royal Air Force will not receive theirs until September 2014. The aircraft, which has secured 174 orders from seven nations, is around three years late in entering service.
The full-size representations of the aircraft will replicate its cargo hold and rear loading ramp. They will be used to teach loadmasters and others specific-to-type operating procedures for the four-turboprop military transport. The part-task trainerswill train unloading and despatch procedures, cargo restraint methods and parachuting techniques.
The trainers will be delivered in 2014 or 2015 to RAF Brize Norton, Oxfordshire, the force’s transport base, under the approximately £3 million ($5 million) order. There, they will be used by several units, including the Air Defence Movements School, 47 Air Despatch Squadron and the Airborne Delivery Wing.
Dytecna, who was awarded the contract in February, will also provide in-service support for the part-task trainers until 2018. The company previously supplied similar trainers for the RAF’s Lockheed Martin C-130s.
The A400M will replace the C-130 in U.K. service. Around four of the mid-1960s vintage C-130Ks remain in service, while the C-130Js, which were introduced in 1999 and anticipated to remain operational until 2030, are thought likely to exit service in the early 2020s due to wear and tear imposed by the severe conditions during extensive operations in Afghanistan.