Airbus’ military flight test team has just passed a remarkable milestone in the lengthy campaign to qualify the full range of capabilities of the pioneering A400M airlifter

Just short of nine years after its 11 December 2009 first flight, the A400M has completed 10,000 hours of development flight testing. More than planned, but critical to developing the extraordinary combination of tactical and strategic capabilities that will see it define military transport for decades to come.

Not only has it been exhaustively tested to satisfy the demands of its eight launch nations, but in a world-first it was simultaneously certified as a civil aircraft.

Head of A400M flight test Eric Isorce, and Head of Military Aircraft Fernando Alonso, who was Head of Airbus Flight Operations at the time of the maiden flight, discuss the challenges of qualifying and certifying Airbus’ first large military transport.


Watch the video for a reminder of the key moments in this remarkable test campaign, including rough-field landings, flare testing, and paratrooping. The work goes on….

These tests confirmed the A400M’s ability to take off and land on sand, grass and gravel runways or strips; they successfully airdropped multiple containers typically used in military and humanitarian operations; deployed paratroopers through fuselage side doors and from the rear cargo ramp; and simultaneously refuel two fighters or a large receiver aircraft such as another A400M. For the in-flight refueling duties, testing also validated the ability to refuel six F-18 fighters during a typical deployment mission, transferring a total of 11.4 tonnes of fuel.