Airbus A400M Atlas airlifter has completed 10,000 hours of development flight testing just short of nine years after its 11 December 2009 first flight.
The test flight hours are more than planned, but are critical to developing the extraordinary combination of tactical and strategic capabilities that will see it define military transport for decades to come.
Airbus said in a statement that the aircraft has been exhaustively tested to satisfy the demands of its eight launch nations and that, in a world-first, it was simultaneously certified as a civil aircraft.
Head of A400M flight test Eric Isorce, and Head of Military Aircraft Fernando Alonso, who was Head of Airbus Flight Operations at the time of the maiden flight, discussed the challenges of qualifying and certifying Airbus’ first large military transport.
These tests confirmed the A400M’s ability to take off and land on sand, grass and gravel runways or strips; they successfully airdropped multiple containers typically used in military and humanitarian operations; deployed paratroopers through fuselage side doors and from the rear cargo ramp; and simultaneously refuel two fighters or a large receiver aircraft such as another A400M. For the in-flight refueling duties, testing also validated the ability to refuel six F-18 fighters during a typical deployment mission, transferring a total of 11.4 tonnes of fuel.