The first production Airbus Military A400M new generation airlifter has made its maiden flight, marking a key milestone towards its delivery to the French Air Force.
The aircraft, known as MSN7, took off from Seville, Spain, at 11:48 local time (GMT+1) and landed back in Seville 5 hours and 42 minutes later.
“The performance of the aircraft was as expected and we had a very smooth flight, confirming the great handling capabilities of the aircraft. The result of this first flight gives us full confidence for the on-time delivery to the French Air Force.” – Experimental Test Pilot Hugues Van Der Stichel, who captained the flight, said after landing.
With a maximum payload of up to 37 tonnes (81 600 lb) and a volume of 340 m3 (12 000 ft3), the A400M can carry numerous pieces of outsize cargo including, vehicles and helicopters that are too large or too heavy for previous generation tactical airlifters, for example, an NH90 or a CH-47 Chinook helicopter, or two heavy armoured vehicles for military purposes. It can also carry a heavy logistic truck, or a rescue boat, or large lifting devices, such as excavators or mobile cranes needed to assist in disaster relief.
The A400M can also carry 116 personnel, or paratroops. Because of the width of the A400M’s fuselage, they can be seated in four rows, all along the two sides of the fuselage, and back to back along the centre-line, with enough space in between the facing rows.
Thanks to its state of the art technologies, including its four unique Europrop International (EPI) TP 400 turboprops, the A400M has the capability to fly distances up to 4,700 nm / 8,700 km, at a cruising altitude up to 37,000 ft, and at a speed of up to Mach 0.72, very similar to that of a turbofan powered airlifter. It can even fly up to 40,000 ft for special operations.