Airbus Military has conducted the ultimate load test on the A400M's all-composite wing, subjecting the design to 150% of the maximum bending load expected to be encountered during the type's operational life.

Conducted late last month using a static test aircraft at Getafe near Madrid, the test culminated with the aircraft's wingtips being moved upwards by 1.41m (4.6ft), Airbus says.

The work was observed by two representatives from the European Aviation Safety Agency, the body responsible for approving the military transport's civil certification before it can enter service from late 2012.

Airbus Military A400M ultimate wing load test
 © Airbus Military

"We are all delighted to have passed this key milestone in the structural test programme, which further confirms the soundness of the A400M design," says senior vice-president A400M chief engineer Alain Cassier.

The static test programme at Getafe is scheduled to conclude in mid-2011, while full-scale fatigue tests using another airframe will be launched later this year in Dresden, Germany.

Separately, Airbus says preliminary work to assess the A400M's ability to manoeuvre under rough field conditions was also successful.

Conducted late last month at a former military airfield near Toulouse, France, the work involved one of the programme's development aircraft performing fast taxi trials with chalk pellets scattered on the ground.

An A400M should make the type's first landing on an unpaved runway before the end of the year.

Source: Flight International