Engine supplier Europrop International (EPI) has given its explanation for the A400M's restricted flying appearance during its debut Paris show. The Airbus Military type made a brief flight on the opening day, but has otherwise been kept on static display.
Airbus Military managing director Domingo Ureña late last week said that the "Grizzly" would not fly in public due a gearbox issue. Speaking at Le Bourget on Wednesday, EPI president Simon Henley confirmed that one of the TP400-D6 turboprop engines on development aircraft MSN1 had encountered an automatic in-flight shutdown earlier this month.
© Airbus Military
"We are still investigating the cause," Henley said. However, the company has dismissed any manufacturing issue, and the programme's three other aircraft are continuing their flight test activities. "It's not a safety issue, but non-essential flying like displays have been suspended," he said. MSN1 is about to have its engine replaced in Toulouse, France, before being returned to flight.
EPI also stressed that the A400M has already been flown throughout its entire performance envelope, up to a top speed of Mach 0.72 and to an altitude of 42,000ft (12,800m).
Meanwhile, work to prepare the TP400 to power production examples of the A400M is ramping up. A new full-authority digital engine control software standard is due to be released in September, with two more to follow in 2012. EPI said earlier problems with FADEC were resolved by late last year, before the TP400 secured civil certification from the European Aviation Safety Agency.
"We expect to achieve full military qualification in the middle of next year," said EPI technical director Martin Maltby. The milestone will be a vital step on the way to Airbus Military delivering its first production A400M to the French air force by March 2013.