The A400M is approaching its release to service date for the RAF, a few years away but things are slotting into place.
The MoD have recently advertised a contract opportunity for the;
Provision of Release to Service (RTS) A400M- Delta Capability
All A400M’s start off at a common base standard and then nation specific modifications and additions are applied. The word Delta is significant in this context, the difference between the two.
Provision of Aircraft Test, Evaluation and Acceptance services for the A400M Atlas Project Team to develop certification, qualification and Release to Service of the UK capability requirement additional to the A400M common standard aircraft.
The requirement is for the production of the additional evidence to expand the contents of the A400M Release to Service (RTS) and update associated documentation to cover UK specific operation of the aircraft, cargo and loads.
Examples of Sub tasks potentially required as part of the service include but are not limited to:
Application of an appropriate Test and Evaluation Process;
Collation of theoretical, analytical and trials evidence in a format suitable for submission to the RTS Authority;
Definition of test packages that will best exploit limited aircraft availability;
Production of Ground and/or Flight Test Proposals;
Production of Ground and/or Flight Trials Instructions;
Analysis of associated risks and production of Safety Assessment Reports to support Ground and/or Flight Trials;
Conduct of Ground and/or Flight Trials;
Reporting of Ground and/or Flight Trials;
Provision of information in a suitable format to update the Aircrew Manual, Flight Reference Cards and Operational Data Manual;
Production of structured arguments based on review and analysis of existing information to justify submissions to the RTS, Safety Case and other documentation.
The estimated cost for this is £30m to £50m
Let me say that again, £30m to £50m
This is for a factory fresh aircraft, an aircraft in which the UK is a development partner and this activity will be repeated by the other customers no doubt.
I never cease to be amazed at the cost of this type of activity and in this case, the obvious fact that the MoD cannot perform the task itself.
There has been talk of harmonising military aircraft release to service procedures across Europe but nothing seems to have much happened.
The UK seems to be pricing itself out of generating military capability.