The acquisition of the Airbus A400 Atlas has meant a great leap for the Air Force in heavy load air transport missions.
An example of this was published yesterday by the Spanish Air Force: the load of an Aerospatiale AS-332 Super Puma helicopter (HD.21, according to the Spanish military designation) of the 802 Squadron, part of Wing 46 based in Gando (Gran Canaria), on board an Airbus A400M Atlas (T.23) of Wing 31, based in Zaragoza, for transfer to the Maestranza Aérea de Madrid, where maintenance work is carried out on this type of helicopter.
The Air Force has published a series of photos of this transfer. The Super Puma is a medium-sized helicopter, 18.7 meters long and 4.95 meters high. As we can see, for its transfer, the main rotor must be completely disassembled and part of its base.
Due to the width of the helicopter, to load it on the A400M you must also remove the rear landing gear fairings, as we can see in these images.
In this other photo we see two details: firstly, the folded tail rotor, since with it unfolded it would be impossible to fit the Super Puma into the A400M. And secondly, the rear landing gear is lowered to reduce the height of the helicopter.
Here we see the Super Puma inside the cargo hold of the A400M. The Spanish Air Force points out about this loading process that it is "a task of great complexity and expertise that requires detailed planning, numerous inspections and constant checks, to guarantee the safety of personnel and the aircraft involved in the loading, unloading and air transport operation."
It should be noted that it is not the first time that a Spanish A400M has loaded a helicopter of this type. The certification process for this type of transport was carried out at May 2021. Before that, in December 2019 the Air Force had already carried out boarding tests of an AS-532 Cougar helicopter of the Army Air Mobile Forces (FAMET), the military variant of the Super Puma (above these lines).
Below you can see the fast camera video published yesterday by the Spanish Air Force about the loading of the Super Puma of Ala 46 in the A400M:
Photos: Ejército del Aire.
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