Friday, December 11, 2009
Airbus A400M Takes Maiden Flight
The Airbus A400M, which has suffered from significant delays and major cost-overruns, took its maiden flight Friday in Seville, Spain. The aircraft, with a take-off weight of 127 tons, is equipped with 15 tons of flight-test equipment including two tons of water ballast. The aircraft's performance is being monitored in real-time by teams of engineers in Seville and Toulouse using air-ground telemetry. The flight kicks off a three-year test campaign that will see some 3,700 hours of flying by an eventual five aircraft. The program is running about three years behind schedule and $3.5 billion over budget. The A400M will receive both civil certification by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and military certification and qualification. A total of 184 aircraft have so far been ordered by Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Spain, Turkey and the United Kingdom.