FARNBOROUGH 2008: A400M engine tests present 'no issues' for Europrop team

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Initial ground tests of the Airbus Military A400M's TP400-D6 engine with a flying testbed have resulted in "no issues at all", says Europrop International vice-president Jacques Desclaux. A fourth run is expected in the UK on 18 July.

Speaking at the Farnborough air show, EPI president Nick Durham said the engine consortium recently delivered the first two TP400s for the European programme's second production aircraft, with the other two to arrive at EADS Casa's Seville final assembly line in Spain by the end of this month.

Three ground runs have been made since early June on a Marshall Aerospace-owned Lockheed Martin C-130 testbed, on each occasion reaching ground idle. "We are reacting to the data generated from those tests," says Durham, who adds that this has involved only "feedback to tweak this a bit, that a bit".

The EPI officials say previously published targets to achieve 30h of ground testing before first flight of the testbed actually translate to around 30-40 ground runs. "It's about what you learn, not the number of hours you do," notes Durham. Programme sources say the goal remains to fly the modified C-130 for the first time in late July, following further static runs and taxi trials.

And while the testbed is formally required to complete 50h of airborne testing before A400M MSN001 can make its first flight, Durham says: "We don't know what Airbus Military might decide to do." EADS officials last month spoke of a revised target of September or October to make the debut sortie.

Bench testing of TP400 engines passed the 1,700h milestone on 15 July, with EPI officials expecting this total to increase at a rate of around 150h a month for the rest of this year. "That's pretty good in terms of getting an understanding of the engine," says Durham, while Desclaux concludes: "We have demonstrated the robustness of the design."