Airbus Military has completed its critical function and reliability (F&R) test activity using A400M development aircraft "Grizzly 5", during which the production-standard transport was flown for an average of 15h per day.

Originally launched around mid-year but interrupted by several months due to a now-resolved fault with Europrop International's TP400-D6 turboprop engine, the F&R process accumulated a total of 300 flying hours.

Resumed in early November, the work took 26 days and 52 flights to complete, with Grizzly 5 having been flown twice a day, Airbus Military says. A further six days were used to perform "routine maintenance" tasks, it adds.

A400M Grizzly 5 - Airbus Military 

Airbus Military

Completing the F&R process is a key achievement as the company works towards securing full civil type certification from the European Aviation Safety Agency and initial operating capability clearance from a committee appointed by the continent's OCCAR defence procurement body. Both milestones are being targeted for during the first quarter of 2013, with the company planning to deliver first production example MSN7 to the French air force before the end of June.

"The crews have been greatly impressed with the performance of the onboard systems and engines, and we are confident that we have a sound basis for completing the civil and military certification in the next couple of months," says Fernando Alonso, Airbus's head of flight and integration tests.

France should take delivery of three A400M Atlas transports next year, with Turkey also due to receive its first example. The type is also on order for the air forces of fellow European partner nations Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg, Spain and the UK, plus export buyer Malaysia.

Source: Flight International