In addition to France and Turkey, the U.K. is planned to receive its first aircraft in September 2014, followed by Germany in November, Malaysia in January 2015 and Spain in January 2016.
The latest of many snags leading to the delay was the detection of metallic chips in the oil system in one of MSN006’s TP400 engines. Airbus was forced to suspend the function and reliability testing campaign after 160 of 300 planned flight hours. F&R testing was then completed in December 2012.
One of the test aircraft was taken to Northern Canada in February for the cold-weather campaign, in which the aircraft was exposed to temperatures up to minus 32 degrees Celsius.
The A400M will get its first upgrade to standard operational capability 1 (SOC1) before year’s end, which will allow initial aerial delivery and self-protection. That is to be followed by SOC1.5 in late 2014 and SOC2 another year later. The final step to SOC3 will clear the aircraft for low-level flight.