Airbus Defence and Space on 9 March formally delivered the first of four Airbus A400M military transport ordered by the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF). The handover also marks the first delivery of an A400M to an export customer outside the original launch nations.
The aircraft was accepted at the A400M final assembly line in Seville, Spain, by a Malaysian delegation. The A400M will give the RMAF the most advanced heavy transport capability in the region and enable it to undertake an wide range of military and humanitarian operations.
Bernhard Gerwert, CEO Airbus Defence and Space, said: “We are extremely proud to deliver the first A400M to our first export customer – Malaysia. These aircraft will transform Malaysia’s air mobility force thanks to the A400M´s unique combination of strategic and tactical capabilities. Today sends a clear message that the A400M is not just a specialised aircraft designed and developed for Europe’s air forces, but is truly the new reference in tactical and strategic transport market globally – fulfilling both roles in a single machine.”
After arrival in Malaysia, the A400M will star in the LIMA airshow at Langkawi, 17-21 March.
The first of four Airbus Defence and Space A400M new generation airlifters ordered by the Royal Malaysian Air Force (Tentera Udara DiRaja Malaysia, TUDM) has made its successful maiden flight, marking a key milestone towards delivery. Airbus confirmed today the flight took place on Friday 30 January already.
The aircraft, known as MSN22, took off from the Airbus production facility in Seville, Spain, on Friday at 17:30 local time. After a successful test flight, it landed back there again 1 hour and 30 minutes later.
Airbus Defence and Space on Thursday 22 January released the first picture of the very first Royal Malaysian Air Force (or Tentera Udara DiRaja Malaysia (TUDM) in Malaysian) Airbus A400M in full colours. The aircraft will be delivered in the first quarter of 2015, followed by two more later in the year and the fourth and final aircraft in 2016.
Malaysia is to be the fifth country operating the A400M. Other operators are France, Turkey, Germany and the UK. Truth is, so far all air forces seem to be using the same colour scheme for their aircraft, with the difference being the flag on the tail.
UPDATED 2 JANUARY 2015 | Once again a catastrophe hit an Asian airliner. Air Asia’s Airbus A320-216 with flight number QZ8501 was officially declared missing on 28 December at 06:24 local time en route from Surabaya to Singapore. On 30 December the sad but expected news came that floating bodies and possible even the contours of the plane were spotted in the Java Sea, about 6 miles (10 km) from the location where all contact with flight QZ8501 was lost. That is about 100 miles (160 km) southwest of the Indonesian city of Pangkalan Bun at Kalimantan.
Radar controllers at both Jakarta’s Sukarno-Hatta IAP and the radar station of Kohanudnas lost contact with the plane at 06:17 on Sunday the 28th at coordinates 03 22’46 S and 108 50’07 E. Very bad weather has been reported in the area, with the pilot asking an alternative route likely to avoid it. The aircraft never reached it’s destination where it was suppose to land at 08:30 local time, nor did its crew send a distress signal.
According to high-ranking Indonesian Naval Aviation commander, Air Asia’s flight QZ8501 is thought to have crashed into Tanjung Pandan waters in Bangka Belitung area, where the water levels are as shallow as 75 to 150 feet (25 to 50 metres). Indonesia’s call during Monday for the US to assist in the search operations was heard. CNN reported just before Midnight London time that the destroyer USS Sampson (DDG-102) – with on board one or two Sikorsky SH-60 Seahawks – is en route to help. A US Navy Boeing P-8I Poseidon is also expected.
Initial reports say that the A320 flight crew contacted Jakarta Air Traffic Control at 06:12 local time and requested an altitude increase from 34,000 to 38,000 feet because of clouds. The plane is also said to have taken a route away from its pre-planned flightpath to evade turbulent weather. The aircraft in question is registered as PK-AXC and had its first flight on 25 September 2008 according to the Airfleets database. The Air Asia plane had taken off from Surabaya at 05:36 local time.
At the time of the disappearance six other planes were in proximity of Flight QZ8501, on somewhat similar routes. Those planes include aircraft from Garuda Indonesia, Lion Air and Emirates, according to reports released by AirNav, the Indonesian national Flight Navigation Service.
There was some debate about the time of disappearance – reports also indicated 07:24, but that seems to be the fault of the difference in time zones between Singapore and Indonesia. After the plane was lost, a search-and-rescue operation was started. But despite great efforts the mission was severely hampered by the weather conditions and darkness, with authorities even pausing the efforts overnight to find the missing plane. The search was resumed at about 06:45 Jakarta time / 07:45 Singapore time on Monday 29 December 2014.
From the air travellers 149 are from Indonesia, three from South Korea, one from Singapore, one from Malaysia and one from the United Kingdom. Six of the crew members are Indonesian, the co-pilot has the French nationality. Air Asia says the crew of A320 flight QZ8501 is seasoned, with Captain Iriyanto having 6,100 flying on Air Asia’s A320. First office Remi Emmanuel Plesel had a total of 2,275 flying hours with Air Asia Indonesia. According to the Indonesian Air Force (TNI-AU), missing Air Asia Airbus A320’s captain is a former Air Force pilot who used to fly the Northrop F-5 Tiger with 14 Squadron (Skadron Udara 14) based at Madiun/Iswahjudi.
Initial air force reports indicate that Indonesian Air Force (TNI-AU) was contacted at 07:55 local time (this might be 06:55 depending on the initial mix-up of time zones) to help search for the missing plane. One of the TNI-AU C-130 Hercules from 31 Squadron at from Halim Airbase went airborne on Sunday at 13:10 local time, but a spokesperson quickly called the weather already “rather challenging”. The Herc piloted by Pilot Mayor Pnb Akal Juang flew the Karimata Islands and surrounding areas down to an altitude of 1500 feet, while its crew and 11 pre-selected local journalist from Jakarta based media on board searched in vain. The C-130 returned without finding anything on 18:40 local time.
A spokesperson also said the TNI-AU scrambled a Boeing 737 MPA from Supadio/Pontianak at West Kalimantan, but is was not immediately clear if that was a mistake or if the plane just happened to be there since the 737s are not officially based there. Moreover an Airbus Helicopters NAS-332 Super Puma was ordered to search, likely coming from Skadron Udara 6 based at Bogor/Atang Senjaya Java. On Monday 29 December the Indonesian armed forces sent six aircraft in the air: two C-130s, a B-737-200 maritime surveillance aircraft, a Navy PTDI CN235 Persuaders and two Super Puma helicopters. The Jakarta Post reports that another three TNI-AU C-130s have participated in the search as well, but these might be the Hercs from neighbouring air forces. Bell 412s were also involved in the operations.
Singapore and India
Amongst the other search assets deployed were two Republic of Singapore Air Force C-130H Hercules’s from 122 Squadron based at Paya Lebar Airbase, joined on Monday by at least two RSAF Super Pumas. The Indian Navy put one of its brand new Boeing P-8Is based at Naval Air Station Rajali on stand-by on Sunday.
Royal Malaysian Air Force
At least one Royal Malaysian Air Force Hercules was readied on Sunday, likely from 20 Squadron based at Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah / Subang RMAF in Kuala Lumpur. On Monday 29 December the RMAF fielded a C-130 (likely the only C-130MP), a CN235-220M tactical airlifter and and a Beechcraft 200T Super King Air maritime patrol aircraft.
Royal Australian Air Force
Australia pre-alerted one of its AP-3C Orions on 28 December. The RAAF Orion joined the search on 29 December, taking off from Darwin in the early morning and heading to Indonesia. “The RAAF AP-3C Orion aircraft has a well proven capability in search and rescue and carries maritime search radar coupled with infra-red and electro-optical sensors to support the visual observation capabilities provided by its highly trained crew members,” RAAF Air Chief Marshal Binskin said in an official statement.
What is left for friends and families of the ones on board Air Asia A320 flight QZ8501 is hope that the combined search effort has at least some result and doesn’t end like Malaysia Airlines MH370.
We say Goodbye (or selamat tingal in Malay) to the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) F-5E Tiger and RF-5E Tigereye. With the 2015 budget coming into effect soon, the Northrop fighter-bombers from the Cold War era will be retired.
The parliament in Kuala Lumpur was informed of the decision on 18 November this year, when Deputy Defence Minister Datuk Abdul Rahim Bakri also told the MPs the 10 MiG-29N and 2 MiG-29NUB will be decommissioned in 2015.
There is no immediate replacement for the (to be) retired jets yet, meaning the RMAF has to soldier on with its 18 Sukhoi Su-30MKMs and 8 McDonnell Douglas (Boeing) F/A-18Ds, plus the light attack British Aerospace Hawk 208s (13) and Italian-made Aermacchi MB 339s (18).
F-5s have been flying in Malaysia airspace ever since the establishment of 12 Squadron in 1975, that became the country’s first fast jet air defence unit. They were already retired once in 2000, but called back into service in 2003 at Butterworth RMAF Base as the Tactical Air Reconnaissance Squadron and Reserve.
Despite the second retirement renewed strategic-military tensions in Asia might give the Tigers another chance. We at Airheadsfly.com are already carefully practicing our next phrase in Malay: Jumpa lagi F Lima or See you again F-5!