Airbus Military has resumed its function and reliability (F&R) testing programme for the A400M Atlas transport, and says it remains on track to deliver its first production example to the French air force during the second quarter of next year.
Being performed using development aircraft "Grizzly 5", the F&R process is a vital element of the company's work towards securing full civil certification for the A400M - a milestone targeted for the first quarter of 2013. The programme, to comprise intensive flight activity totalling 300h, was interrupted earlier this year after a problem with one of the aircraft's Europrop International (EPI) TP400-D6 turboprop engines. Around 160 aircraft flight hours had been completed by that point.
The resumption of F&R flights earlier this month follows EPI's redelivery of engines with a replacement cover plate in the propeller gearbox since the cause of the recent problem was identified. Airbus Military says it is putting hours on the aircraft "at an aggressive rate", and is "happy with progress" so far.
MSN7, the first production A400M, is on the final assembly line at Airbus Military's San Pablo plant in Seville, Spain. The company expects to perform the first flight of the French transport in the first quarter of 2013, and to deliver a total of four Atlas aircraft next year.