Airbus has provided aircraft enthusiasts with a grand tour of their in-service A400M military transport plane at the Avalon Airshow.
German flight crew led an informative tour of the four-engine turboprop military transport aircraft at the expo on 1 March.
While not chosen for the Australian Defence Force, the aircraft has been operating in the UK, France, Spain, and Malaysia. More recently, it has been used for earthquake assistance flights in the Middle East and Exercise Pitch Black with French and German personnel.
Two of its most recent orders are a pair of air refuelling aircraft for Kazakhstan and Indonesia. In addition, Airbus has advised there are early-stage negotiations for the aircraft with two nations in Southeast Asia.
Airbus is also developing firefighting equipment which can be retrofitted to current aircraft.
German first squadron commander Lieutenant Colonel Schmidt said the recent discussion about the development of uncrewed refuelling aircraft is a complex issue.
“The flying part is easy, but the aircraft managing part has to be done by a person. There are some great ideas about making things easy and simple, but we are still filling out forms, tracking tail numbers and times,” he said.
“I remember on my last refuelling mission, we were assigned one area and then moved to another. We had to program that change, and so would any autonomous system.
“I think that change might end up with a lot of mission aborts in that situation.”
Lieutenant Colonel Schmidt said future improvements he would like to see on the aircraft would include vertical auto navigation, colour television feeds instead of grey, and more computer-performed documentation for aircraft refuelling.