Airbus Military has today successfully achieved the sixth contractual milestone of the A400M programme.

"Milestone Six", which involves the acceptance by the customer of the Class Two A400M Cockpit Mock-up is particularly significant since it is designated as one of the six "Critical Milestones" whereby the programme as a whole may be rejected by the customer on the grounds of non-compliance.

Other critical milestones include the start of final production, the first flight and certification and delivery of the first aircraft to a customer.

The Class Two Mock-up is an exact replica of the aircraft’s operational cockpit and is, essentially, a full-scale laboratory designed to test and verify a number of important parameters in the overall cockpit environment.

Using the new facility, a comprehensive programme will be undertaken to validate the detailed design and to demonstrate the effectiveness of the man-machine interface, ensuring that vital information is correctly perceived by the flight crew and that vital actions can be efficiently carried out by them.

Parameters to be studied include crew comfort and mobility, ergonomics, field of vision inside and outside the cockpit, ventilation, access and egress, and the viability of equipment / structure interfaces.

Some of the most important tests to be carried out in the Class Two Cockpit Mock-up are those designed to verify the interior light levels of the cockpit under all conditions as well as night vision compatibility for the flight crew, especially when using Night Vision Goggles (NVG).

In order to demonstrate that all objectives were fully reached and the milestone achieved, a formal presentation of the cockpit mock-up was made to customer representatives from OCCAR*, on September 20th at the Blagnac site of Airbus France.

"I am very pleased that Airbus Military has successfully completed, according to schedule, this important milestone that highlights the excellent cockpit design," said Olivier Etchevers, the A400M Programme Manager at OCCAR. Richard Thompson, Senior Vice President Commercial Airbus Military, added "Today's achievement, once again, demonstrates that the A400M programme is running according to schedule and underlines the effectiveness of manufacturer and customer working together towards a common goal."

The Class Two Mock-up was, in fact, completed ahead of schedule and has been in use since the spring of this year.

The A400M programme was launched in May 2003 when 180 A400M airlifters were ordered by seven European NATO nations: 60 for Germany; 50 for France; 27 for Spain; 25 for the UK; 10 for Turkey; 7 for Belgium and 1 for Luxemburg. In addition, South Africa and Malaysia have committed to eight and four aircraft respectively, bringing the total current order book to 192 aircraft.

The A400M, the world's most modern military transport aircraft, will first fly in January 2008 with deliveries beginning in October 2009.

*OCCAR, 'Organisation Conjointe de Coopération en matière d'Armement' is the European procurement agency acting as a single interface between the manufacturer and the national customers.