A400M ferries to Toulouse

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The Airbus Military A400M is flying from Seville to Toulouse today in what amounts to its first multi-airport flight following a series of test flights performed in the Seville area since December.

Today’s flight is the tenth performed by A400M MSN1 since its first flight on December 11. To date the aircraft has logged 39 hours. “Very poor weather in Seville prevented the aircraft from performing more flights, as the sensors installed on the turboprop blades for the initial flight test campaigns, are sensitive to humidity,” Airbus says in a statement.

During the initial testing, MSN1 has flown at the type’s maximum operating speed of 300kt (555km/hr), maximum Mach number of M0.72, down to the stall warning, and at an altitude of more than 30 000ft. It has operated extensively in both direct and normal control laws, and in different configurations.

The first A400M is equipped with heavy test instrumentation, as is the second aircraft which was handed over to Flight Test on 6th March and is due to fly in the next few weeks. MSN 3 is undergoing final production ground tests before engine installation. The aircraft is due to fly by the middle of this year. Sections for MSN 4 have arrived in Seville for final assembly, with the main fuselage due to leave Bremen and be flown to Seville at the end of this week. MSN 4 is to fly in the second half of this year.

While MSN 1 and 2 are fitted with heavy test instrumentation, MSN 3 and 4 will have medium test instrumentation. The fifth aircraft, MSN6, which is the first built to production standards, is going to be fitted with light test instrumentation only. The five aircraft will perform a planned 3,700 flight-hours before first delivery of the A400M in late 2012. Trials with MSN1, 3 and 6 will be performed in Toulouse, while those with MSN 2 and 4 will be done in Seville, providing greater flexibility and taking advantage of best weather conditions where available.

Meanwhile, Reuters reports Airbus-owner EADS says it sees no need to restructure despite taking a massive charge for the bailout of the A400M military transporter and the apparent loss of a US in-flight refuelling tanker contract. “The future of the (A400M) programme is secured, financing is solved,” EADS Human Resources head Jussi Itavuori told a news conference in Helsinki, Finland, today. “(The tanker deal loss) is not that kind of matter that would cause direct effects in our industrial organisation or staff. Its effect is more that we will not create jobs in the US,” he said.



Pic: Two A400M aircaft on the apron at Seville, Spain.