Airbus Military’s all-new A400M took off for its maiden flight from Seville Airport in Spain from runway 09 at 10:15 local time (09:15Z).
In line with the extreme delays on this program even the first flight was delayed by 15 minutes. At the controls was Chief Test Pilot Military, Edward “Ed” Strongman, 60, with Experimental Test Pilot Ignacio “Nacho” Lombo, 43, in the right-hand seat. Four engineers are also on the aircraft: Senior Flight Test Engineer Jean-Philippe Cottet, 43, who has responsibility for the powerplants; Senior Flight Test Engineer Eric Isorce, 52, with responsibility for systems and performance; Senior Flight Test Engineer Didier Ronceray, 54, with responsibility for the handling qualities of the aircraft; and Test Flight Engineer Gerard Leskerpit, 50.
The aircraft, with a take-off weight of 127 tonnes, is equipped with 15 tonnes of flight-test equipment including two tonnes of water ballast and its performance is being monitored in realtime by teams of engineers in Seville and Toulouse.
Four all-new Europrop International (EPI) TP400D turboprop powerplants producing a massive 11,000shp (8,200kW) each are fitted to the plane.
The crew will explore the aircraft’s handling characteristics in the various flap configurations, check the powerplant operation and make initial evaluations of the aircraft’s systems.
Today’s first flight marks the beginning of a test campaign that will see about 3,700 hours of flying by an eventual test fleet of five aircraft conducted till the end of 2012 when it is expected to enter service with forces of Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Spain, Turkey and the United Kingdom.