Airbus Military remains on track to deliver its first production example of the A400M around the end of 2012, with a delayed period of function and reliability testing due to start within the next few weeks.
The cause of a vibration issue affecting one of development aircraft MSN6's four Europrop International TP400-D6 turboprops has been traced to an engine balancing issue, and the "Grizzly" will begin accumulating the 300 flight hours required from around late May.
"We will fly extensively to recover some delay," says Cedric Gautier, Airbus Military's head of A400M programme, who expects the function and reliability activity to conclude in late June or early July. This should enable full civil type certification of the type to also be secured during July and initial operational capability to follow in August or September.
© Airbus Military
The first of a contracted 174 A400Ms is currently on the final assembly line at Airbus Military's San Pablo site in Seville, Spain, with MSN7 to be delivered to the French air force at the end of 2012 or early next year.
"MSN7 is progressing as per plan, exactly on track," says Gautier, who reveals that the current planning target for completing first flight of the aircraft is 23 August.
In all, two French air force aircraft are now in final assembly, with the centre wing box for the first Turkish transport, MSN9, also now in Seville. Major parts for the programme's next seven aircraft are now in build around Europe, along with long-lead items out to MSN19.
"We have a production ramp-up that is going very well," Gautier says.
Meanwhile, work continues to try to identify the cause of a propeller gear box failure which left MSN4 stranded in Oman late last month. Gautier confirms that the issue was not a repeat of two previous failures to the TP400 which caused major programme disruption during 2011, and that the company and EPI can resolve it with affecting the delivery schedule for MSN7.
France is also within weeks of signing an in-service support deal to cover its first 18 months of operating the new type, Airbus Military says.