During a phone interview about the A400M's recent receipt of restricted type certification from EASA we got onto the subject of continuing problems with the aircraft's all-important TP400-D6 turboprop engine.
Bad vibrations from one engine have delayed production-standard MSN6 from starting on flying the 300h of functioning and reliability testing needed to get to full civil type certification - a milestone now expected around mid-year. Flights should start in a couple of weeks, after a replacement has been installed.
But Airbus chief test pilot military Ed Strongman told me that "Grizzly 4" (pictured above in an Airbus Military image) remains in Oman after encountering an unexplained engine shut-down while descending into Muscat on its way home from a debut tour of Asia. The troublesome TP400 should arrive back with Europrop International in Munich tomorrow, but there's no answer for now on what caused the incident.
The line from Airbus Military is that neither of these issues will delay the planned delivery of the first production A400M to the French air force at the end of this year. But they certainly can't be helping.
I've just finished writing two feature articles about the company's assembly work on the A400M and light and medium transports, and its international training centre in Seville for the next issue of Flight International, which includes our Spanish industry special.