The Royal Air Force took the A400M on tour in February and March with important stops in New Zealand, Australia, Indonesia and Malaysia. The military transport aircraft made a real impression during different stops in the region.
Having flown over snow-capped mountains, Pacific reefs and volcanoes, the Australian outback and the world's most populous island, one of the Royal Air Force's A400M Atlas aircraft arrived back at Brize Norton air base in early March. Covering just short of 30,000 miles (48,000 km), having flown westwards around the world, it had performed a tour primarily of Asia-Pacific in cooperation with Airbus DS.
The A400M of RAF 70 Squadron encountered high-level military and government staff, media, the general public and members of other operating air forces. The main purposes were to boost UK engagement with New Zealand and Australia by attending major air shows, support Airbus export campaigns and provide RAF crew training in strategic transport operations. "This was an ambitious deployment which involved taking the aircraft to the other side of the world, but the A400M performed extremely well," underlines Ioannis Papachristofilou, Head of Marketing at Airbus DS.
One highlight came at the start of the tour, with the A400M conducting flights in Wellington, New Zealand for Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) personnel and the media. It then participated in two air shows, the RNZAF 80th anniversary air tattoo at Ohakea and the Avalon Airshow outside Melbourne, where members of the public waited patiently to get a look while high-level meetings were held, including between the UK Chief of the Air Staff and NZ Chief of the Air Force.
The A400M Atlas then moved onto Southeast Asia. First Jakarta in Indonesia, for further VIP visits and media briefings. Then to Subang air base in Malaysia - the home of the Royal Malaysian Air Force's own A400M fleet, offering an opportunity for excellent cooperation between the two air forces.
"The RAF was immensely supportive in presenting the A400M to the world and we greatly appreciate their efforts," concludes Ioannis. "We were able to make a real impact in countries like New Zealand and Indonesia, as well as in Australia. It was also very pleasing to see the RAF collaborating closely with the Royal Malaysian Air Force A400M squadron."