Airbus Military officials have briefed media on the progress of the A400M’s flight test campaign during the company’s annual Innovation Days briefings being held this year at its Broughton wing manufacturing facility in North Wales.
Senior vice president flight and integration tests, Fernando Alonso, said the program’s two current flight test aircraft, MSN1 and MSN2, had completed more than 32 flights for nearly 150 hours total flight time to date, with the most recent flights focusing on stall testing, propeller stress survey work and acoustic fatigue testing. The test program is expected to last 3700 hours.
To date, the test aircraft have shown clean stall characteristics, with early concerns of the aircraft being susceptible to a deep stall, where airflow over the horizontal stabiliser is disturbed, being unfounded. Indeed, a small, downward facing booster rocket was fitted to the rear empennage of one of the test aircraft in case of a deep stall and the pilots were unable to push the nose down to recover, but has not been needed in flight testing to date.
Three more A400M test aircraft are scheduled to join the test fleet in coming months, with three of the five to be based at Toulouse and the other two at Seville in southern Spain. Hot weather testing is expected to be carried out this northern summer in Seville where the temperature can easily reach the mid 40s C.
Airbus holds 186 orders for the troubled A400M, which has been delayed more than three years by engine development issues and industrial delays.