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03 April 2008
03. April 2008 Commercial Aircraft

Progress continues towards the first flight of Airbus' new A400M military airlifter


With A400M's first flight scheduled for this year, the programme for this multi-mission transport is making steady progress. Ground system and load testing is underway on aircraft MSN001, while the powerful TP400-D6 turboprop engine is being readied for its own aerial evaluations.

The A400M test programme is making steady progress towards achieving its challenging targets for 2008, including the aircraft's first flight. This four-engine military airlifter is designed for strategic operations, tactical missions and in-theatre refuelling operations.

Structural testing of the static test airframe (MSN5000) is now in progress at EADS CASA Getafe's site near Madrid, Spain. Additionally, ground system and load testing is underway with flight test aircraft MSN001 at the final assembly line in Seville, Spain, while production of the second development aircraft (MSN002) has already started.

Work is in progress at all A400M facilities across Europe, Turkey, Malaysia and South Africa to complete production of sub-assemblies for the programme's five development aircraft.

The first set of production TP400-D6 engines was delivered to the Seville final assembly line at the end of February, and is being installed on aircraft MSN001. Ground testing of the 11,000-shaft horsepower turboprop powerplant had accumulated a total of more than 1,000 hours of operation by the beginning of March.

For flight testing, a TP400-D6 has been recently installed with its 5.5m-diameter propeller on a Hercules C-130K testbed aircraft at Marshall Aerospace in the U.K. The modified Hercules is due to go airborne this spring, ahead of MSN001's first flight, which is scheduled for the summer.

As the A400M programme gathers momentum, the five development aircraft will be used to complete an extensive flight test programme leading to certification, which is set to start this year. For the certification, two of these A440Ms will be based in Seville, and three in Toulouse.

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