A400M completes first flight

Posted on 14 Dec 2009 by The Manufacturer

The first Airbus Military A400M military airlifter has landed in Seville, Spain after completing a successful maiden flight lasting 3h 47min.

Chief Test Pilot Military, Edward Strongman, captained the flight — supported by Experimental Test Pilot, Ignacio “Nacho” Lombo. The crew confirmed that the aircraft, known as MSN 1, and its four Europrop International TP400D turboprop engines performed as expected.

For its first flight the aircraft took off at a weight of 127 tonnes, carrying 15 tonnes of test equipment — including two tonnes of water ballast, compared with its maximum take-off weight of 141 tonnes. As planned, the six-man crew extensively explored the aircraft’s flight envelope in direct law, including a wide speed-range, and tested lowering and raising of the landing gear and high-lift devices at altitude. After checking the aircraft’s performance in the landing configuration, the crew landed back at Seville.

In the first half of 2010 MSN 1 will be joined by two sister aircraft, MSN 2 and MSN 3, followed by MSN 4 by the end of the year. A fifth aircraft will join the programme during 2011. This fleet will be used for some 3,700 hours of test-flying between now and first delivery to the French Air Force at the end of 2012.

Ian Godden, Chairman of A|D|S, said: “The A400M will deliver urgently-needed capability to the RAF and other air forces as well as sustained, high-quality, employment from Airbus at Filton and for other companies across the UK supply chain. Alongside the engineering excellence being delivered by Airbus UK on the A400M programme, thousands of people employed within small and medium sized enterprises also depend on the aircraft for their future livelihoods.

“The economic benefits it delivers to the UK, alongside the military and engineering capabilities it safeguards for Britain, cannot be overstated. It will also deliver a large scale reduction in the environmental impact of the UK’s military transport aircraft, conforming to the Ministry of Defence’s own sustainable procurement priorities.

“The A400M programme, with its cutting edge use of composite technology and application of the latest lean and efficient manufacturing techniques, firmly positions Airbus UK and the UK aerospace sector at the forefront of this high technology industry. It is also crucial in bridging the UK industry to the next generation of civil aircraft programmes.”