Airbus A400M first fightAirbus A400M took of for its first flight
This morning Airbus Military’s all-new A400M took off for its maiden flight from Seville Airport in Spain. The new airlifter took to the air from runway 09 at 10:15 local time (09:15 UTC).
At the controls was Chief Test Pilot Military, Edward “Ed” Strongman, 60, with Experimental Test Pilot Ignacio “Nacho” Lombo, 43, in the right-hand seat.
Four engineers are also on the aircraft: Senior Flight Test Engineer Jean-Philippe Cottet, 43, who has responsibility for the powerplants; Senior Flight Test Engineer Eric Isorce, 52, with responsibility for systems and performance; Senior Flight Test Engineer Didier Ronceray, 54, with responsibility for the handling qualities of the aircraft; and Test Flight Engineer Gerard Leskerpit, 50.
Between them the multi-national crew has logged more than 31,000 total flight hours.
The aircraft, with a take-off weight of 127 tonnes, is equipped with 15 tonnes of flight-test equipment including two tonnes of water ballast and its performance is being monitored in realtime by teams of engineers in Seville and Toulouse using state-of-the-art air-ground telemetry.
The crew will explore the aircraft’s handling characteristics in the various flap configurations, check the powerplant operation and make initial evaluations of the aircraft’s systems.
The duration of the flight will be at the test team’s discretion and will end with a landing back at Seville in front of more than 2,000 media, VIPs and Airbus Military staff.
Over the last four weeks the aircraft has been extensively tested on the ground in an increasingly challenging programme leading up to the first flight.
The engines have been run at full power, the electrical systems and on-board data network exhaustively tested, and numerous taxying runs at progressively higher speeds have been performed culminating in a rejected take-off test at a speed of 123kt (227km/hr) on 8th December.
Today’s first flight marks the beginning of a test campaign that will see some 3,700 hours of flying by an eventual five aircraft conducted between now and entry-into-service at the end of 2012. The A400M will receive both civil certification by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and military certification and qualification.