On Friday 2nd September 2016, the Airbus A400M Atlas completed its soft surface landing trials at former RAF Woodbridge. These trials show that Atlas is moving closer to achieving full operating capability, soon becoming a crucial element within the RAFs Air Mobility Fleet.
The two-week trial saw the A400M Atlas landing on a pre-prepared dirt surface which had to be artificially softened in order to fully test the airframe. The monumental task of producing a runway for Atlas to test this capability was undertaken by 23 Parachute Engineer Regiment. Usually this high readiness regiment provides, close and general engineer support to 16 Air Assault Brigade
Capt Mark Davies said “This has been an example of developing Air Manoeuvre Potential, through partnerships.” This project has seen the Army, Royal Air Force, Airbus, local council and forestry commission collaborate, and innovate to provide a UK first. 23 Parachute Engineer Regiment worked tirelessly around the clock in order to get the necessary work completed so that the A400M Atlas could land for the first time at Woodbridge.
Air Officer Commanding number 2 Group, Air Vice-Marshal Gavin Parker said “This is an incredibly important trial. A400M Atlas will be a very important aircraft for the Royal Air Force and the Army as we move forwards.”
The A400M Atlas is bridging the gap between strategic and tactical flying, being able to carry heavy loads into austere locations. In the future, Atlas will provide additional Air Mobility support to the RAF, where it could be delivering lifesaving humanitarian aid equipment worldwide.