The first Airbus Military A400M military airlifter (MSN 1) made its first flight today, taking off at 10:15 a.m. local time (0915 UTC) from Seville, Spain, for a three-hour, 47-minute flight, according to EADS. The six-person crew, led by Edward Strongman, Airbus chief test pilot, military, said the aircraft and its four Europrop International TP400D turboprop engines performed as expected.
Engine consortium Europrop International (EPI) is now just 300 test hours away from certification of its 11,000-shp TP400 turboprop for the Airbus A400M military transport. According to technical director Karsten Muehlenfeld, the final software of the full authority digital engine control (Fadec) is to be delivered to the Toulouse iron bird late this month, allowing flight trials to at last begin.
EADS Airbus Military hopes that by the Paris Air Show next month launch customers Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Spain, Turkey and the UK will complete a review of their commitment to the A400M military transport.
Powering the A400M was always going to be a challenge, requiring the development of the Western world’s biggest turboprop, the 11,000-shp TP400-D6, and integrating a host of highly complex systems and associated software. “The complexity of the integration task on the TP400 has been bigger than it was for the Airbus A380,” said Nick Durham, president of Europrop International (EPI).
Airbus Military will receive the first four flight test engines for the delayed A400M medium-lift transport by the end of the year, ending speculation that the TP400 engine program has run into serious difficulties.
Four European engine exhibitors at Dubai–Rolls-Royce, Safran, MTU and ITP–are fighting to recover an engine program that has run into serious problems during testing, forcing major delays to the Airbus Military A400M transport currently being campaigned as the answer to medium uplift requirements in the UAE and other Gulf states.
To no one's great surprise, EADS finally admitted that the A400M airlifter will be late taking off. "The consequence on deliveries and cost is under assessment," the company added.
It seems there is no slack left in the Europrop TP400-D6 turboprop engine program for the Airbus A400M military transport.
It has been a busy year for the Airbus Military A400M program, which has seen the first major components of the European airlifter reach the final assembly site at Seville, Spain, the first run of the TP400-D6 turboprop at Istres, France and–until the beginning of March–the successful achievement of all critical milestones.
Europrop International (EPI) performed the first TP400-D6 engine control and monitoring system (CMS) test in Villaroche late in May, the consortium announced just before the show. The TP400 is the turboprop engine designed for the Airbus A400M military transport aircraft.