Airbus Military has successfully completed the 300 hours of Function & Reliability (F&R) flight-testing of the A400M new generation airlifter which is a key requirement prior to full certification.
Data from the F&R programme, which was performed entirely using the first production-representative aircraft – MSN6 / Grizzly 5 – is now being examined by the civil and military certification authorities for the A400M – respectively EASA and a committee appointed by OCCAR.
Having received the restricted Type Certification begin May this year, this phase of the flight test programme was the last major requirement prior to full Type Certification. It is expected that the aircraft will receive the full civil Type Certificate and military Initial Operating Capability in the first quarter of next year subject to the approval of the relevant authorities. First delivery to the French Air Force, of MSN7, is planned for the second quarter, and a total of four aircraft will be delivered during the year in line with the schedule.
The F&R testing was completed in just 32 days, during which the aircraft made 52 flights and visited 10 different airfields. The exercise is intended to examine the aircraft´s behavior in conditions representative of normal in-service experience, including both routine and simulated abnormal operations in a wide range of weather and locations. It helps minimize the risk to operational crews, particularly on new aircraft entering service, of malfunctions and failures that increase pilot workload.
This intensive testing demonstrated the excellent reliability of the A400M and its systems as well as its TP400 engines even under an exceptionally demanding schedule.
Airbus Military Head of Flight and Integration Tests Fernando Alonso said: “During this F&R campaign the A400M has really been put through its paces. It has flown an average of two flights and 15 flight hours per day over a 26 day timeframe with only 6 days devoted to routine maintenance activities. The crews have been greatly impressed with the performance of the on-board systems and engines, and we are confident that we have a sound basis for completing the civil and military certification in the next couple of months.”
The A400M is an all-new military airlifter designed to meet the needs of the world’s Armed Forces in the 21st Century. Thanks to its most advanced technologies, it is able to fly higher, faster and further, while retaining high maneuverability, low speed, and short, soft and rough airfield capabilities. It combines both tactical and strategic/logistic missions. With its cargo hold specifically designed to carry the outsize equipment needed today for both military and humanitarian disaster relief missions, it can bring this material quickly and directly to where it is most needed.
Conceived to be highly reliable, dependable, and with a great survivability, the multipurpose A400M can do more with less, implying smaller fleets and less investment from the operator. The A400M is the most cost efficient and versatile airlifter ever conceived and absolutely unique in its capabilities.