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Airbus A400M crashes during test flight, killing four

written by australianaviation.com.au | May 10, 2015
Airbus A400M at the Dubai Airshow in November 2013. (Airbus)
File image of an A400M. (Airbus)

Four Airbus employees have been killed and two more are in hospital in a serious condition after an A400M military airlifter crashed just outside Seville, Spain shortly into a production test flight.

The A400M, which was due to be delivered to Turkey, crashed about 1.6km from Sevilla Airport on Saturday afternoon European time.

“The aircraft, with the serial number MSN023, was making the first production flight and had departed from Sevilla Airport at 12:45 pm local time,” Airbus Group said in a statement confirming the accident.

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“An Airbus Group go-team of technical advisors is being dispatched to provide full assistance to the official committee in charge of the investigation.”

News reports from Spain said the aircraft had reported a problem during the initial climb.

All six crew flight test crew onboard were of Spanish nationality.

Airbus Group chief executive Tom Enders said the company was “deeply saddened” by the accident.

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“All of our Airbus employees’ thoughts are with the families and their friends,” Enders said on Twitter.

“We will do all it takes to support the authorities in their investigation, which has just been launched.”

Turkey accepted the first of 10 A400Ms it has on order in April 2014. MSN023 was to be the third to be delivered.

The first customer A400M delivery was to the French air force in August 2013. Other current operators of the aircraft are Germany, the UK and Malaysia.

Germany’s Luftwaffe and Britain’s Royal Air Force both said they were suspending A400M flights in response to the accident.

The A400M program has totalled about 170 orders from eight nations.

The flight path of the A400M that crashed near Seville on May 09 2015. (Flightradar24)
The flight path of the A400M that crashed near Seville on May 09 2015. (Flightradar24)

Steer your own in-flight experience – available on print and digital Whether our classic glossy magazine in your letterbox, daily news updates in your inbox, peeling back a few layers in the podcast or our monthly current affair reports, you can count on us to keep you up to date. Sign up today for just $99.95 for more exclusive offers here. Subscribe now at australianaviation.com.au.

14 Comments

  • Paul

    says:

    Very sad!

  • David Carter

    says:

    The decision by Airbus to make the A400M a turboprop was a courageous one. Turboprops, with their gearboxes and propellors, are more complex, kW for kW, than turbofans. The A400M’s engines are most powerful turboprops attempted in the west since the failed Pratt and Whitney T-57 back in the 1950s. Let’s hope that this accident is not linked to the engines or propellors.

  • Paul

    says:

    Yes considering the Props on each wing rotate in opposite directions – possibly it was a FCS problem?… BBox analysis should tell

  • Tom

    says:

    How Ghastly for the Families, friends and co workers of those lost

  • Jeff

    says:

    To have all four engines malfunction?,Or one major explosion on one side causing the catastophie.Will be interesting.I hope for a good outcome for the aircraft and company .I think the RNZAF should buy them.I”m very sorry for the crew and families.

  • Marc

    says:

    So many aviation crash experts.

  • angelo calleja

    says:

    this is bound to happen in test aircraft, during these tests the aircraft is subject to extreme maneuvers, and the risk of a mishap is pronounced

  • Bill

    says:

    Angelo this was not a test aircraft, this was a production example undergoing its first flight, which normally would check systems and be relatively uneventful, there is no pushing the envelope in these flights, as the certification testing is already completed

  • Peter Clark

    says:

    Love the comment above that New Zealand should get them. Was there some tongue in check in that statement after the accident. Or just badly worded and timed.
    I think at this time, until we know more and a lot more, these aircraft should be off the New Zealand Defence order book at this time and now to sometime in the future.
    New Zealand needs to make a decision on its strategic transport up lift very soon. The A400M has the potential to be a great transport aircraft, but I don’t think New Zealand cant afford to wait now any longer to make a statement on two C-17 aircraft. T he C-17 will allow New Zealand to have an ANZAC aircraft that can be shared across the Tasman and is a very common proven type.
    The C-130H aircraft still have a good five to 10 years in them and a further replacement programme is down the track for them. By then the very capable Embraer KC-390 should have advanced further, This aircraft will be less technical and uses proven systems and engines, and is a whole lot cheaper than the A400M and the C-130J, and KC-390 seems to have very good payload range figure’s..

  • Paul

    says:

    2 – C17’s would be great but Mr Brownlee announced on NZ News the other night that no new Transport planes could be currently afforded so the LEP Herks will have to do for now…

    Sitting in the A400M at Avalon 2015 I can tell you its a very nice Aircraft with state of the art systems- similar to the Airbus Commercial fleet.

    Any new Aircraft system will have its problems particularly with new engine types. Remember the F111 had initial problems that needed fixing and it flew for a very long time in the RAAF. J model Herks also had vibration issues with its new engines/props but dont think it ever caused a crash.

    Lets hope they can get any isues sorted.

  • ngatimozart

    says:

    Given time to mature I believe that the A400M will be a very good aircraft and would t NZDF needs well. By the time that NZDF need to acquire the aircraft it should have matured sufficiently for their purposes. They don’t actually need to make a decision until probably 2018 at the latest and by that time, all of the bugs should have been sorted and all of it’s capabilities certified or close to certification.

    Regarding any NZ C17 procurement announcement, the possibility exists that it might occur during the NZG 2015 .Budget announcements during or after the presentation of the Budget to the Parliament on the afternoon of 21st May 2015. Yes, I agree the NZG has to make a decision with increasing haste if it wants to acquire two C17s. As too an ANZAC C17 component, that is I think, more wishful thinking on some commentators part than anything else. NZ had to acquire said aircraft first and that is not guaranteed.

  • Jeff

    says:

    Sorry,No tongue in cheek.(spelt correctly.) I wasn’t being un sympathetic re DCi0 incident or anything like that.I was just saying that these would be a great conversion for the needs of the air force in that they have more durability with the interaction with the pacifis islands with their limited air strips and that they can do Antarctica return on a full fuel load.The C17s can”t .Does NZ have to have a mega lifter.Very expensive to run also.

  • Damian

    says:

    Although the idea of an ‘Anzac fleet/squadron’ makes a lot of sense and has a romantic feel to it Australia and NZ have rarely co-operated on defence purchases. Different needs and being at a different point in the acquisition phase has meant NZ flying different sub-types even when same airframe. Think Hercs, Orion, Sea Sprite, MRH90 etc. Even NZ chose the Texan rather than hold off and participate in the Australian training recapitalisation.

  • Paul

    says:

    4- A400M would be great to replace our 5 Herks in 5 years any Production issues should be sorted by then.

    NZDF does sometimes have a habit of buying good used ADF equipment when an opportunity emerges.

    Eg A4 Skyhawks & Upgraded Seasprites, maybe some Ex RAAF F18’s until we can afford our own F35’s

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Airbus A400M crashes during test flight, killing four

written by australianaviation.com.au | May 10, 2015
Airbus A400M at the Dubai Airshow in November 2013. (Airbus)
File image of an A400M. (Airbus)

Four Airbus employees have been killed and two more are in hospital in a serious condition after an A400M military airlifter crashed just outside Seville, Spain shortly into a production test flight.

The A400M, which was due to be delivered to Turkey, crashed about 1.6km from Sevilla Airport on Saturday afternoon European time.

“The aircraft, with the serial number MSN023, was making the first production flight and had departed from Sevilla Airport at 12:45 pm local time,” Airbus Group said in a statement confirming the accident.

Advertisement
Advertisement

“An Airbus Group go-team of technical advisors is being dispatched to provide full assistance to the official committee in charge of the investigation.”

News reports from Spain said the aircraft had reported a problem during the initial climb.

All six crew flight test crew onboard were of Spanish nationality.

Airbus Group chief executive Tom Enders said the company was “deeply saddened” by the accident.

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“All of our Airbus employees’ thoughts are with the families and their friends,” Enders said on Twitter.

“We will do all it takes to support the authorities in their investigation, which has just been launched.”

Turkey accepted the first of 10 A400Ms it has on order in April 2014. MSN023 was to be the third to be delivered.

The first customer A400M delivery was to the French air force in August 2013. Other current operators of the aircraft are Germany, the UK and Malaysia.

Germany’s Luftwaffe and Britain’s Royal Air Force both said they were suspending A400M flights in response to the accident.

The A400M program has totalled about 170 orders from eight nations.

The flight path of the A400M that crashed near Seville on May 09 2015. (Flightradar24)
The flight path of the A400M that crashed near Seville on May 09 2015. (Flightradar24)

Steer your own in-flight experience – available on print and digital Whether our classic glossy magazine in your letterbox, daily news updates in your inbox, peeling back a few layers in the podcast or our monthly current affair reports, you can count on us to keep you up to date. Sign up today for just $99.95 for more exclusive offers here. Subscribe now at australianaviation.com.au.

14 Comments

  • Paul

    says:

    Very sad!

  • David Carter

    says:

    The decision by Airbus to make the A400M a turboprop was a courageous one. Turboprops, with their gearboxes and propellors, are more complex, kW for kW, than turbofans. The A400M’s engines are most powerful turboprops attempted in the west since the failed Pratt and Whitney T-57 back in the 1950s. Let’s hope that this accident is not linked to the engines or propellors.

  • Paul

    says:

    Yes considering the Props on each wing rotate in opposite directions – possibly it was a FCS problem?… BBox analysis should tell

  • Tom

    says:

    How Ghastly for the Families, friends and co workers of those lost

  • Jeff

    says:

    To have all four engines malfunction?,Or one major explosion on one side causing the catastophie.Will be interesting.I hope for a good outcome for the aircraft and company .I think the RNZAF should buy them.I”m very sorry for the crew and families.

  • Marc

    says:

    So many aviation crash experts.

  • angelo calleja

    says:

    this is bound to happen in test aircraft, during these tests the aircraft is subject to extreme maneuvers, and the risk of a mishap is pronounced

  • Bill

    says:

    Angelo this was not a test aircraft, this was a production example undergoing its first flight, which normally would check systems and be relatively uneventful, there is no pushing the envelope in these flights, as the certification testing is already completed

  • Peter Clark

    says:

    Love the comment above that New Zealand should get them. Was there some tongue in check in that statement after the accident. Or just badly worded and timed.
    I think at this time, until we know more and a lot more, these aircraft should be off the New Zealand Defence order book at this time and now to sometime in the future.
    New Zealand needs to make a decision on its strategic transport up lift very soon. The A400M has the potential to be a great transport aircraft, but I don’t think New Zealand cant afford to wait now any longer to make a statement on two C-17 aircraft. T he C-17 will allow New Zealand to have an ANZAC aircraft that can be shared across the Tasman and is a very common proven type.
    The C-130H aircraft still have a good five to 10 years in them and a further replacement programme is down the track for them. By then the very capable Embraer KC-390 should have advanced further, This aircraft will be less technical and uses proven systems and engines, and is a whole lot cheaper than the A400M and the C-130J, and KC-390 seems to have very good payload range figure’s..

  • Paul

    says:

    2 – C17’s would be great but Mr Brownlee announced on NZ News the other night that no new Transport planes could be currently afforded so the LEP Herks will have to do for now…

    Sitting in the A400M at Avalon 2015 I can tell you its a very nice Aircraft with state of the art systems- similar to the Airbus Commercial fleet.

    Any new Aircraft system will have its problems particularly with new engine types. Remember the F111 had initial problems that needed fixing and it flew for a very long time in the RAAF. J model Herks also had vibration issues with its new engines/props but dont think it ever caused a crash.

    Lets hope they can get any isues sorted.

  • ngatimozart

    says:

    Given time to mature I believe that the A400M will be a very good aircraft and would t NZDF needs well. By the time that NZDF need to acquire the aircraft it should have matured sufficiently for their purposes. They don’t actually need to make a decision until probably 2018 at the latest and by that time, all of the bugs should have been sorted and all of it’s capabilities certified or close to certification.

    Regarding any NZ C17 procurement announcement, the possibility exists that it might occur during the NZG 2015 .Budget announcements during or after the presentation of the Budget to the Parliament on the afternoon of 21st May 2015. Yes, I agree the NZG has to make a decision with increasing haste if it wants to acquire two C17s. As too an ANZAC C17 component, that is I think, more wishful thinking on some commentators part than anything else. NZ had to acquire said aircraft first and that is not guaranteed.

  • Jeff

    says:

    Sorry,No tongue in cheek.(spelt correctly.) I wasn’t being un sympathetic re DCi0 incident or anything like that.I was just saying that these would be a great conversion for the needs of the air force in that they have more durability with the interaction with the pacifis islands with their limited air strips and that they can do Antarctica return on a full fuel load.The C17s can”t .Does NZ have to have a mega lifter.Very expensive to run also.

  • Damian

    says:

    Although the idea of an ‘Anzac fleet/squadron’ makes a lot of sense and has a romantic feel to it Australia and NZ have rarely co-operated on defence purchases. Different needs and being at a different point in the acquisition phase has meant NZ flying different sub-types even when same airframe. Think Hercs, Orion, Sea Sprite, MRH90 etc. Even NZ chose the Texan rather than hold off and participate in the Australian training recapitalisation.

  • Paul

    says:

    4- A400M would be great to replace our 5 Herks in 5 years any Production issues should be sorted by then.

    NZDF does sometimes have a habit of buying good used ADF equipment when an opportunity emerges.

    Eg A4 Skyhawks & Upgraded Seasprites, maybe some Ex RAAF F18’s until we can afford our own F35’s

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

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