Airbus Defence and Space (DS) has progressed helicopter air-to-air refuelling (AAR) certification for its A400M tanker-transport aircraft, the company announced on 19 April.
Having now completed most of its certification tests, Airbus hopes to sign off the helicopter refuelling capability for the A400M before the end of the year. (Airbus)
The certification tests saw the airlifter complete “the majority of its development and certification objectives”, Airbus DS said, adding that it hopes to achieve full helicopter air-to-air refuelling certification later this year with the conclusion of all mandatory night operation trials.
“The flight tests, performed in co-ordination with the French Armament General Directorate (DGA), involved operations with two French Air Force [Airbus Helicopters] H225M helicopters.
“The campaign took place in day and night conditions over the west coast of France at between 1,000 ft and 10,000 ft and flight speeds as low as 105 kt. During those flights, a total of 81 wet contacts and transfers of 6.5 tonnes of fuel were achieved, which included simultaneous refuelling of two helicopters for the first time. The tests confirmed the positive results of the dry and wet contact operations conducted in 2019 and 2020,” the company said.
News of the milestone came some 19 months after the first ‘dry’ (no fuel passed) contacts between an A400M tanker and an H225M Caracal helicopter took place in September 2019. That initial test also included the first proximity trials between the A400M and an Airbus Helicopters H160 helicopter, which will be the derived Guépard future military multirole helicopter for the French armed forces.