Following a series of three flights on consecutive days the Airbus Military A400M airlifter MSN1 has now completed a total of seven flights and clocked up 30hr 20min block time.
Taking advantage of improving weather the aircraft flew every day from 14-16 January, making excellent progress in exploring more extreme areas of the flight envelope, precisely calibrating the air data collection equipment, and beginning specific assessments of the aircraft systems.
MSN1 has flown at the type’s maximum operating speed of 300kt (555km/hr), maximum Mach number of M0.72, down to the stall warning, and at an altitude of more than 30,000ft. It has operated extensively in both direct and normal control laws, and in different configurations.
Chief Test Pilot Military Ed Strongman, who is one of five pilots to have flown the aircraft, said: “We have performed some very interesting flights and collected a lot of good data. The aircraft is a delight to fly and there have really been no significant problems at all.”
MSN1 is now spending 3-4 weeks in the hangar undergoing modifications in light of the test data and experience so far and will return to flight in the second half of February. Aircraft MSN2 will join the flight programme in early spring and MSN3 will fly around the middle of the year. An eventual five prototypes will perform a planned 3,700 flight-hours before first delivery of the A400M in late 2012.
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 manoeuvrability, 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.