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The company Héroux-Devtek Spain has developed an autonomous motorised mobile crane equipment (CME) for the A400M long-range turboprop military transport aircraft of Airbus Defence and Space. Following successful qualification, series production has now started and the CME will be installed on the A400M in the final assembly line in Seville.

With its single-rail system, the CME is designed for independent loading and unloading of the A400M. Weights of up to five tonnes can be lifted and transported from the cargo hold to the apron (or vice versa). The CME is controlled by its remote control unit, which is connected to the interface of a panel located in the rear cargo hold of the aircraft.

The total service life is specified at around 10,000 winding and extension cycles with a stroke of two meters. The application range covers temperatures between -40ºC and 70ºC. The wide range of operating speeds ensures service cycles of less than 30 minutes.

A dedicated power supply unit adapts the electrical power supplied by the aircraft engines to the CME’s electronic control unit and its sensors. During operation, the crane is secured to the rail by a double locking device, preventing it from moving during flight maneuvers or any emergency scenarios. In the event of a power failure, two mechanical emergency actuators ensure that the loading process is completed. The Load Master receives an overview of the loading process from an LCD display that shows, among other things, the weight of the load and the accumulated work cycles.

Héroux-Devtek Spain has already sent the first seven units to the A400M final assembly line in Seville. A total of 121 aircraft will be equipped with the CME. Up to now a total of 174 A400M have been ordered, of which around 90 aircraft have been delivered. Some of the delivered aircraft will therefore have to be retrofitted.

Gerhard Heiming