Three of the four engines on board the A400M that crashed during a test flight shortly after takeoff from Seville on May 9 experienced “power frozen” after lift-off, investigators have found.
Airbus Defence and Space said on Wednesday (European time) preliminary analysis by CITAAM – the organisation in Spain responsible for investigating military aircraft accidents – of the digital flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder readouts had been successfully completed.
“CITAAM confirmed that engines 1, 2 and 3 experienced power frozen after lift-off and did not respond to the crew’s attempts to control the power setting in the normal way, whilst engine 4 responded to throttle demands,” Airbus Defence and Space said.
“When the power levers were set to ‘flight idle’ in an attempt to reduce power, the power reduced but then remained at ‘flight idle’ on the three affected engines for the remainder of the flight despite attempts by the crew to regain power.”
Four Airbus employees were killed and two more injured after the A400M military airlifter crashed just outside Seville on May 9 shortly into a production test flight.
The A400M, with serial number MSN023 and due to be delivered to Turkey, crashed about 1.6km from Sevilla Airport.
On May 19, Airbus Defence and Space sent an Alert Operator Transmission (AOT) to all A400M operators requiring one-time specific checks on the electrical control units (ECU) on the engines, as well as introducing additional detailed checks when the Europrop International TP400-D6 engines or ECUs were replaced.
“This AOT results from Airbus Defence and Space’s internal analysis and is issued as part of the Continued Airworthiness activities, independently from the on-going official investigation,” Airbus Defence and Space said on May 19.
In its June 2 statement, Airbus Defence and Space said the preliminary analyses showed “all other aircraft systems performed normally”, with no other abnormalities identified throughout the flight.
“Accordingly, Airbus Defence and Space does not have any additional specific recommendations beyond those specified in our AOT of May 19th,” it said.
The first customer A400M delivery was to the French air force in August 2013. Other current operators of the aircraft are Turkey, Germany, the UK and Malaysia.
The investigation continues.