New boss for Airbus military aircraft division


As of March 1 Airbus Defence and Space’s military aircraft division will have a new head in the form of long-time flight test engineer, Fernando Alonso.

Previously he was senior vice president flight and integration tests, head of flight operations since 2007 and before than vice president flight test division, a post he took up in February 2002.

Fifty-eight year-old Alonso began his professional career at McDonnell Douglas in California in 1979 as a performance engineer in its flight test department and left three years later to join Airbus as a performance engineer in the European company’s flight division.

While at Airbus, he graduated as a flight test engineer at l’Ecole du Personnel Navigant d’Essais et de Réception (EPNER) in 1990 and then became flight test engineer responsible for aircraft performance of the A330, A340 and A321.

Between 1995 and 2002, Fernando was responsible for the development of flight controls and handling qualities during the flight test programmes of the A319, A330-200, A340-500 and A340-600. Then he was part of the organisation and co-ordination of flight test campaign of the A380.

During a career at Airbus that has spanned more than 30 years, Fernando has accumulated more than 4,300 hours of flight tests. He was a flight test engineer on the maiden flights of A340-200 in 1992, the A319 in 1997, the A380 in April 2005 and most recently the A350 XWB in June 2013.

Airbus Defence and Space chief executive Bernhard Gerwet said some organisational changes designed for more efficient operations as well as putting the A400M industrialisation programme in a better position to address current shortfalls would also be made.

On the A400M, now better known as the Atlas, he said it had already been deployed in military operations and performed well.
“But as far as the integration of military capabilities and the industrial ramp-up in particular is concerned, we have not been performing at the level which had been expected from us. That is unacceptable and we will fix that. We are fully conscious of how dependent customer nations are on this new airlifter and take their concerns seriously. We will do our utmost to overcome them so the customers receive the aircraft they need in the shortest time possible,” he said.

Atlas aircraft already in service are showing good performance exceeding specifications in the strategic and logistic roles.

Military capabilities, including aerial delivery, cargo handling, defensive aids sub-systems (DASS) and air-to-air refuelling with pods will be integrated in the second half of this year following certification and qualification for each capability. Flight testing of these capabilities is underway and will continue. Additional military capabilities are planned to be integrated until 2018 as per contractual agreements.