VICTORIA, Australia — Christian Scherer, Airbus Defense & Space's executive vice president of marketing and sales, said today that he expects an export order for the A400M airlifter by the end of the year — the first since Malaysia signed for four aircraft in December 2005.
"Our expectation is that we will have an A400M export this year," he said.
An A400M from the French Air Force was present at the 2015 Australian International Air Show at the Avalon Airport near Melbourne as part of an around-the-world flight to verify the aircraft's capabilities.
The aircraft arrived at Avalon direct from Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia and was heading to Noumea in French New Caledonia at the conclusion of the show.
According to the aircraft commander, Lt. Col. Olivier Luneau, the A400M had flown in excess of 24 flying hours to Southern Australia without requiring anything more than routine maintenance along the way.
Speaking to reporters on the second trade day of Avalon 2015, Scherer also responded to recent comments in local media regarding the Royal New Zealand Air Force's interest in the Boeing C-17A, of which there are several "white tails" awaiting sale after the conclusion of production sometime in the northern hemisphere's summer.
"Our message to New Zealand is, with A400M you can cover all of the strategic requirements, which is mainly their Antarctic service," he said. "And at the same time, with the tactical capability of this aircraft, you can land on many of the various islands north of New Zealand, you can begin replacing, or sorting out your aging C-130 issues."
Scherer said that 10 A400Ms had been delivered to the air forces of France, Germany, Turkey and the United Kingdom to date, with the first aircraft for the Royal Malaysian Air Force due to be handed over at the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace (LIMA) show on the island of Langkawi in March.