Airbus Military has launched a delayed programme of so-called function and reliability (F&R) testing of its A400M transport, with development aircraft MSN6 having begun the activity on 2 June.
Flown from Toulouse, France, the sortie marked the start of an intensive period of activity using the European manufacturer's production-standard "Grizzly". A further five flights had been made by 7 June.
MSN6 must accumulate 300 flight hours to demonstrate the reliable operation of its equipment and systems before the receipt of full civil type certification from the European Aviation Safety Agency.
Airbus Military had planned to begin the F&R activity earlier this year, but had to delay the programme after a vibration problem was found to be affecting one of MSN6's Europrop International TP400-D6 turboprop engines. This was replaced, causing a delay of several weeks.
MSN6 made its first flight in Seville, Spain, in December 2011 (above), and by 16 May had logged only 19 flights, totalling 77h.
The F&R activity is expected to be complete this month, with MSN6 then due to appear at the Royal International Air Tattoo and Farnborough air show in the UK during July. It is also scheduled to undergo electromagnetic testing at EADS's site in Manching, near Munich, and to participate in September's Berlin air show.
Airbus Military plans to deliver its first production example of the A400M to the French air force in late 2012 or early 2013, with the aircraft targeted to make its first flight on 23 August.