Airbus Defence & Space resumed flight testing of the A400M tactical transport on 12 May, just days after four of its personnel were killed in the first accident to involve the type since its flight debut in December 2009.

Spain’s defence ministry is leading an investigation into the cause of the 9 May crash involving aircraft MSN23, which happened shortly after its first take-off from Seville airport in Spain. Another two Airbus flight test personnel were seriously injured in the incident, which left the transport completely burned out. The aircraft had been scheduled for delivery to the Turkish air force next month.

“The A400M flight test programme continues unless or until any evidence is found which would suggest that it is not safe to fly,” Airbus said after completing a 1h 50min sortie from Toulouse to Seville four days after the crash. “So far no such evidence has emerged.”

While planned flight testing with an Airbus fleet of three “Grizzly” development aircraft is set to continue, the manufacturer confirms that the Spanish military authorities have “temporarily suspended the licence to undertake flights with the production aircraft that are in preparation for delivery”. The decision has been reached as a “precautionary measure and pending the accident investigation”, it adds.

“We are working closely with the military authorities as well as our customers to manage this situation,” says Airbus, while noting: “assembly of the A400M continues as planned.”

Airbus Defence & Space notes that its flight test fleet has to date accumulated over 7,500h through more than 2,7000 flights, while existing operators France, Germany, Malaysia and the UK have also logged in excess of a combined 2,000h in service.