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A400M Air Force and Collins Aerospace

February 28, 2024, A400M Air Force and Ratier Figeac employees meet at Rodez-Aveyron airport

On Thursday, February 29, 2024, an A400M from the Touraine squadron of Air Force Base 123 landed at Rodez-Aveyron airport for a joint Air Force-Industry visit, with the participation of some 200 employees from Ratier-Figeac, a Collins Aerospace subsidiary specializing in high-power propellers and also an equipment manufacturer (throttle, propeller brake, horizontal plane actuator, etc.).

In this year of celebrations for the 90th anniversary of the French Air Force and the 80th anniversary of the Touraine Squadron, the aim of this visit was for Ratier Figeac employees to meet the crew of an A400M to discuss the concepts of use of the aircraft equipped with the propeller system, designed and manufactured in Figeac. For the aircraft’s crew, it was also an opportunity to meet the manufacturer and discuss operational feedback with Ratier Figeac employees.

The A400M landed at Rodez-Aveyron airport at around 9am. The morning was devoted to a tour of the aircraft by Collins Aerospace employees, and the afternoon to a visit of the Ratier Figeac facilities by the crew.

Jean-François Chanut, Vice-President and General Manager of Propeller Systems for Collins Aerospace and President of Ratier-Figeac (1,466 employees) welcomed the A400M.

The A400M is a four-engine aircraft with an empty weight of 79 tons, a payload of 37 tons and a maximum take-off weight of 141 tons. It is both a tactical aircraft (transporting military loads over short distances, close to the front line and on short, basic runways) and a strategic aircraft (transporting military loads over long distances). To accomplish these 2 missions simultaneously, the 4 A400M turbo-jet engines, each rated at 11,000 HP, are equipped with Ratier Figeac propellers with a diameter of 5.3 m. Why propellers? Propellers enable shorter take-offs than with jet engines alone (up to 1,000 m for the A400M). Ratier Figeac’s propellers for the A400M were also designed to enable long missions between major airports with satisfactory cruising speeds. Finally, weight being the enemy of the aircraft and its payload, Ratier Figeac A400M propellers are made of composite to reduce their mass.

Captain Dorian explained that this aircraft has operated on every continent, with a more frequent presence in Africa and the Middle East. Employees were able to visit the interior and cockpit, and chat with the crew.

To conclude the day, Jean François Chanut presented a review of the year 2023 for Ratier Figeac (2023 activity up +15% on 2022, 2023 sales 15% higher than 2019 pre-Covid) and a forecast for 2024 growth of 10% on 2023, with sales expected to reach 640 M€ in 2024 compared with 580 M€ in 2023, with around 60 new hires. All this is linked to new contracts such as a new propeller brake for the A400M, a door actuator for Airbus, and a mini-handle for a German VTOL start-up (Lilium). Ratier Figeac and the Lot department are part of a long and happy aeronautical history that is destined to continue. Nadia Didelot – AeroMorning;

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