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  • ILA: VIDEO & PICTURES- A400M to showcase performance range, as flight testing passes 250h mark

ILA: VIDEO & PICTURES- A400M to showcase performance range, as flight testing passes 250h mark

History will be made at ILA today when Airbus Military's A400M transport makes its public debut at an air show, less than six months after achieving its maiden flight.

Flown by Airbus chief test pilot military Ed Strongman, aircraft MSN001 will show off its handling characteristics on the opening two days in Berlin.

Honed on the A400M simulator at Seville, Spain, and also tested at the French air force's Istres flight-test centre, the "role-related" display sequence will range from slow-speed handling to a stunning response to a simulated ground-proximity warning.

After taking off and climbing at a rate of around 30°, the aircraft will come around and pass the crowd at around 100kt (185km/h). "This is not the classic Airbus pass, as we will be using a lot of flap, but it will demonstrate the A400M's ability to fly slow enough to refuel helicopters," says Strongman.

Airbus Military A400M arrives at ILA 2010, Billypix
© Billypix
Airbus Military A400M arrives at ILA 2010

Later on, the aircraft will be flown past at 260kt, 40kt below its maximum, before its crew responds to a simulated terrain collision advisory warning. This will see it pulled up by around 40°, and after gaining height rolled out at a bank angle of up to 120°. Previously demonstrated during stall testing, this is 30° greater than the contractually required limit for the transport as set in its seven-nation launch order for 180 aircraft.

After landing, MSN001's four Europrop International TP400-D6 engines will be used to reverse the aircraft along the runway, with its ramp and doors also open. This will reveal its current payload: roughly 17t of on-board flight-test instrumentation.

A400M @ ILA Billypix
© Billypix

With two of their eventual five prototype aircraft now flying, the Airbus flight-test team is ramping up the hours on the type from both Seville and Toulouse, France. More than 60 flights and 250 flight hours have been recorded since 11 December, with more than 80h of this total logged since mid-May.

The last flight with strain gauges attached to the aircraft's Ratier-Figeac propellers was performed last week, so previous restrictions on the type's operation through rain have been removed. The A400M was also recently flown to its VD velocity limit of 335kt, and Strongman says: "We saw no problems." A third aircraft should join the flight-test campaign next month.

Also crewed by co-pilot Karl-Heinz Mai and flight-test engineers Jean-Philippe Cottet, Eric Isorce, Gerard Leskerpit and Didier Ronceray, MSN001 will be on static display when not flying at the show.

"We're not staying the whole week, which is a bit of a shame," says Strongman. "We want to show the aeroplane to the customers, the public and to the world." MSN001 is also scheduled to appear at next month's Royal International Air Tattoo and Farnborough air show events in the UK.

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