In a major boost to the Airbus Military A400M project, Europrop International on Friday announced the airlifter’s engine had received civil certification, nearly four years later than scheduled.
The European Aviation Safety Association (EASA) granted civil certification to the TP400-D6 turboprop after more than 8 000 flight hours and 4 000 hours of ground testing. The engine was first run in October 2005 but suffered a troublesome development process and missed its original certification, scheduled for October 2007.
“Certifying the TP400 has presented a series of unique challenges due to the high power of the engine and the leading-edge technology that is incorporated within its design,” said EPI technical director Martin Maltby. When it enters service, the TP400 will be the most powerful operational turboprop in the western world, with an output of 11 000 shp.
“It is the first large turboprop engine to have been certified by the European Aviation Safety Agency and the first military engine to have been certified by EASA to civil standards from the outset,” the company added. “During development testing the engine demonstrated exceptional performance operating at sea-level and altitude conditions. It also proved its ability to cope with birdstrike, ice and water ingestion.”
Certification comes days after EPI signed an amended contract with Airbus Military that settled outstanding issues with the aircraft. A statement issued by EPI – a consortium between ITP, MTU Aero Engines, Rolls-Royce and Snecma – said the agreement was signed in Toulouse, France, by EPI president Simon Henley and Airbus Military’s head of propulsion procurement, Erik Buschmann.
“This agreement marks another important milestone in the programme and highlights the desire of both EPI and Airbus Military to work closely together to deliver an engine and aircraft combination that will set new standards in the military transport market,” said Henley.
Certification marks another step in the right direction for the delayed A400M project, and comes a month after Belgium, Britain, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Spain and Turkey gave formal backing to a 3.5 billion euro rescue deal for the military airlifter, ending a drawn-out battle to save Europe’s largest defence project
The bailout from was the result of an intense political battle to prevent the original 20 billion euro programme collapsing under the weight of cost overruns and delays, which would cause the loss of 10,000 jobs. The bailout was previously threatened by last-minute objections, especially from Britain.
The A400M project, based in Seville, will support 40,000 jobs in Europe by 2016, with the first aircraft delivered to France between the end of 2012 and early 2013. Deliveries were originally scheduled for November 2009. Civil certification will be achieved by year-end.
Airbus Military has orders from seven European countries for 170 aircraft, with an additional four being destined for export customer Malaysia. South Africa cancelled its order for eight A400Ms in November 2009 due to ‘extensive cost escalation and the supplier’s failure to deliver the aircraft within the stipulated timeframes’.