11 Dec 09. This morning Airbus Military’s all-new A400M took off for its maiden flight from Seville Airport in Spain. The first entirely new airlifter of the 21st Century 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.
Its four all-new Europrop International (EPI) TP400D turboprop powerplants producing 11,000shp (8,200kW) each are the most powerful propeller engines ever fitted to a Western aircraft.
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.
The A400M military airlifter has landed back in Seville, Spain today at 14:02 local time (13:02 UTC) after completing a successful maiden flight lasting 3h 47min following its take-off at 10:15 local time.
Chief Test Pilot Military, Edward “Ed” Strongman, captained the flight supported by Experimental Test Pilot Ignacio “Nacho” Lombo. The engineering team on board included: Senior Flight Test Engineer Jean-Philippe Cottet who had responsibility for the powerplants; Senior Flight Test Engineer Eric Isorce with responsibility for the aircraft systems and performance; Senior Flight Test Engineer Didier Ronceray with responsibility for the handling qualities of the aircraft; and Test Flight Engineer Gerard Leskerpit.
The crew confirmed that the aircraft, known as MSN 1 and its four Europrop International TP400D turboprop engines performed as expected.
Ed Strongman said: “We have had a very successful first flight – the take-off performance was impressive, we explored a lot of the operational flight envelope, and it was a delight to operate in such a well-designed cockpit with its easy interface to all the normal and military systems. I’m sure our customer pilots are really going to like it – we certainly did.”
Nacho Lombo added: “From the very beginning of the flight we were impressed by the ease of handling of the aircraft which was in line with what we experienced in the simulator. The aircraft, systems and engine performance were highly satisfactory. We sense the great potential of this magnificent machine. It has been an honour for all the crew to fly the A400M on its maiden flight, representing all the people involved in the programme.”