With delivery of the first A400M looming ever larger on the horizon, Airbus Military can add full type certification for the new generation airlifter to the ticked off box.
Award of the type certificate by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) means the A400M is the world’s first large military transport to be designed and certified to civil standards from inception. Military Initial Operating Clearance is ongoing as another step on the road to first delivery for the French Air Force, scheduled for the third quarter of this year.
During the certification programme the A400M underwent exhaustive testing of its handling qualities across the flight envelope in normal and failure conditions. It also showed good performance in the heat of the Gulf, the cold of Canada and Sweden and the high altitude of Bolivia. More than 300 hours were flown specifically for the EASA certification in function and reliability testing of the TP400 engines and all systems on the A400M.
Linden Birns, Airbus Military Southern Africa spokesman, said the civil certification was an “integral part of the overall A400M programme from the start”.
“Having acquired it means the aircraft can be utilised in any number of humanitarian roles without specifically having to acquire certification in instances where time is of the essence.
“EASA certification allows A400M to be used for, among others, getting earthmoving equipment to areas where it is needed to stop flooding or build dams, move refugees or supply food and emergency supplies at short notice,” he said using South Africa’s Gift of the Givers as an example.
More advanced military functions, including air-to-air refuelling, air dropping of supplies and paratroopers and low-level flight, and are all currently underway with a view to full military certification.
The five-strong fleet of Grizzly development aircraft have completed just on 5 000 flying hours during more than 1 600 flights expanding the A400M’s capabilities.
The EASA certification comes just weeks after the first production A400M successfully completed its maiden flight. The just under six hour flight took off and landed and Seville in Spain with test pilot Hugues van der Stichel in command.
Four aircraft are expected to be delivered this year to France and Turkey with a further 166 earmarked for France, Germany, the UK, Turkey, Spain, Belgium and Luxembourg.