The fourth Airbus Military A400M military airlifter has made its first flight – a development its manufacturer says is the culmination of a highly successful 2010 which also saw the fleet of aircraft complete just over 1000 hours in the air and 300 flights.
Known as Grizzly 4, the aircraft took off from Seville, Spain with a weight of 130 tonnes just before Christmas to make a five hours, ten minutes maiden flight. Airbus reports Experimental Test Pilot Klaus-Dietrich Flade captained the flight, supported by Experimental Test Pilot Christophe Cail. The crew also included Test Flight Engineers José Aragón-Gómez and Bruno Bigand as well as Flight Test Engineers José Casado-Corpas, and Catherine Schneider. She is the first female flight test engineer and test crew member to participate in an A400M first flight.
Grizzly 4 is the fourth of an eventual five aircraft which will conduct the 3700 hour flight-test programme leading to first delivery in around two years time. It will be primarily dedicated to cargo and air-to-air refuelling operations and carries a medium flight-test instrumentation load.
Airbus Head of Flight Operations Fernando Alonso said the “on-time first flight of Grizzly 4 highlights what has been an excellent first year of the flight-test programme. We end 2010 fully on schedule and with every expectation of rapidly building flight-hours and hitting our key test objectives in the year ahead. I am particularly proud of the seamless work done by the Airbus and Airbus Military teams in the Seville and Toulouse Flight Test Centres which has been instrumental in this achievement.”
The flight of Grizzly 4 followed the completion of a series of milestones in recent months – notably the first paratrooper jumps from the aircraft, which were highly successful and demonstrated the excellent potential of the aircraft for this military operation, Airbus Military said in a statement. Flights with the ramp and doors open have proceeded smoothly.
An extensive programme of flying the aircraft with simulated icing shapes attached to the wings and tail has been completed. These flights were performed by Airbus and European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) flight crews and represent the first set of certification tests completed on the A400M. Preliminary tests of protective kits for rough-field operations have been completed in preparation for next year´s trials.