Airbus Military should be able to resume an interrupted programme of function and reliability (F&R) testing with production-representative A400M MSN6 late this year, according to chief executive Domingo Ureña-Raso.
The Europrop International (EPI) TP400-D6 engines from test aircraft MSN6 and also MSN7, the first of 174 production examples on order, have been returned to the propulsion system supplier to replace a cover plate in the propeller gear box.
"Hopefully we will resume the F&R test by November, based on the current information from EPI on returning the engines to Seville," Ureña-Raso says. Completing the process is essential before the airframer can secure full civil certification for the A400M: a milestone now targeted for the first quarter of 2013.
Aircraft MSN7 is now due to be delivered to launch operator the French air force during the second quarter of next year, following a slight slip from a contractually-agreed deadline of 31 March.
"My aim will be to maintain the first flight [of MSN7] before the year-end, but it will be extremely challenging," Ureña-Raso says. "It might well be the very early part of 2013."
Speaking at the ILA Berlin airshow on 11 September, the Airbus Military boss also revealed the company’s intention to send an A400M to India to demonstrate the type’s capabilities to the nation’s air force. While the service already operates six Lockheed Martin C-130Js and will has 10 Boeing C-17s on order, he says "We know that they need this plane, especially in the north of the country. Once certificated, we plan to take the aircraft to India as soon as we can."