Text: Serge Van Heertum - Pictures: Philip Verhasselt © sbap 2014

The era of change-over in tactical airlift in Belgium has reached a new turning point as,  last August 12, the first Airbus A400M landed on runway 25R at Brussels National Airport to rejoin the military apron of Melsbroek.

This aircraft from the Armée de l'Air, Escadron 1/61 Touraine, gave the kick-off to set up the new aerial procedures peculiar to this new tactical transport aircraft. Over from Canada, the aircraft carried out a transport mission for the German, Belgian and French armed forces, commissioned by the European Air Transport Command (EATC).

The A400M took off on August 09 from his base at Orléans to pick up material at the German airbase of Köln-Wahn and then bound to the Atlantic. During this missions she flew some 20.000 km between Köln (Germany), Shannon (Ireland), Washington (USA), Calgary and Quebec (Canada) and finally Melsbroek (Belgium).

The arrival of the A400M “Atlas” is a significant symbol of the integration of European aerial means. This “common pool” which is the EATC, aims to make those aerial means profitable to all participating countries (Germany, Belgium, Spain, France and the Netherlands) and in doing so, reduce the operating costs.

The French A400M (MSN08) at Melsbroek was the start for the implementation of the new procedures peculiar to this transport aircraft and the increasing workload with the “Atlas” integrated in EATC process will give the opportunity to train the Belgian military crews for these procedures long before the arrival of our own aircraft.

After the off-loading of material and the complete handling with refuelling, the A400M left the Belgian military airbase to rejoin its home base at Orléans-Bricy to await new missions.

Arrival of the first "Atlas" in Belgium On Melsbroek apron
Refueling The refueling bay
Off-loading of the material One guy at each screw...to avoid oil overflow...special job!
The cockpit of the A400M
Much movments around the giant transport aircraft
Ready for departure...
Special award for the first Belgian crew who made the handling

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