Airbus Defence & Space believes it has found a solution to a problem that was late last year revealed as leaving its A400M tactical transport incapable of refuelling helicopters in flight.

During a previous test campaign performed with an Airbus Helicopters H225M, both the airflow behind the Atlas and the rotorcraft’s proximity to its T-tail meant that the air-to-air refuelling activity could not be safely completed using a standard, 24.4m (80ft)-long hose.

Speaking at the company’s Ottobrunn site near Munich on 20 June, head of engineering Miguel Angel Morrell said windtunnel testing of a potential solution has been conducted in Spain, with Onera. Representing the second phase of a company-funded research and development activity, this modelled using a hose-and-drogue design with a deployed length of 36.6m.

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