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French Airbus A400M Atlas cleared to drop paratroopers through side doors


On 18 May, French Defense Minister Florence Parly, published on her Twitter account that, after testing, the French Airbus A400M Atlas transport aircraft is cleared to drop paratroopers through a side door. Dropping through the rear ramp was already validated.

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French Airbus A400M Atlas cleared to drop paratroopers through side doors 1 French paratroopers ready to board an Airbus A400M Atlas (Picture source: French MoD, on Florence Parly's Twitter account)


The first operational training for automatic parachute drops through a single side door took place on May 12th. This exercise was held at the School of Airborne Troops (located in Pau) with an A400M of the Armée de l’Air and Army paratroopers. Dropping paratroopers and equipment through the rear ramp had been validated in February. The A400M Atlas is already cleared for dropping 25 tonnes of equipment in a single pass, distributed over 10 pallets in a single pass.

The new type of personnel release is based on the use of a fuselage side door and the automatic opening of the parachute. The technique used allows the release of 30 paratroopers through each side door of the A400M, however tests with 40 paratroopers were already made. The next steps of the validation procedure will increase the drop altitude and the number of paratroopers to drop.

On the occasion of the delivery of the 17th A400M to the French Air Force, Florence Parly recalled that this aircraft is “essential in the context of the Barkhane operation currently taking place in the Sahel for deliveries by air”.


French Airbus A400M Atlas cleared to drop paratroopers through side doors 2 French paratroopers jumping from one of the side doors of an Airbus A400M Atlas (Picture source: French MoD, on Florence Parly's Twitter account)


Let’s remind that, on October 7, 2019, Airbus already published that the A400M had completed the certification flight test for the simultaneous dispatch of 80 (40+40) equipped paratroopers from both side doors on a single pass. Tests were performed in coordination with the French Armament General Directorate (DGA) together with French and Belgian Armed Forces. The flight test campaign, performed in the Ger Azet drop zone in southern France during daylight, also successfully completed the certification flight test to support the deployment of 58 paratroopers from one side door, the A400M’s maximum dispatch capacity from a single door.

These major milestones conclude a major certification test phase of the paratroop dispatch capability of the A400M, paving the way for the simultaneous deployment of up to 116 paratroopers and the certification for mixed operations.


French Airbus A400M Atlas cleared to drop paratroopers through side doors 3

Dropping of 80 paratroopers performed in October 2019, to date the largest simultaneous deployment from an A400M on a single pass (Picture source: Airbus)