Nearly four years after its maiden flight, the first Airbus Military A400M airlifter has been retired and is to be placed on public display. Development aircraft MSN1 – known as Grizzly 1 – made its final flight from Toulouse on November 4, having accumulated 1,448hr 25min in 475 flights.
The last flight was manned by the same crew that first took it to the air on December 11 2009. Folowing the sortie, chief test pilot Ed Strongman, who commanded the first and last flights, said: “MSN1 has had a relatively short but very arduous life, and it has taken us to the extreme parts of the flight envelope where, I hope, most other A400Ms will not go.”
With test flight activity winding down, MSN3 has also been placed in long-term storage leaving one of the original three pre-production aircraft used for the core certification program – MSN2 – in operation. It is joined by MSN4 and MSN6, which will continue to support flight test concentrated on the further development of military capabilities.
Discussions on the Grizzly 1’s display venue are underway, with a decision expected next year. The future of the rest of the Grizzly fleet will be decided in due course.