The 5th Airbus Military A400M military airlifter has made its first flight today, marking the end of a highly successful year for the program and meaning that the full fleet of Grizzly development aircraft is now in the air, completing the flight-test program.
Known as Grizzly 5, the aircraft took off from Seville, Spain with a take-off weight of 125 tonnes at 08:55 local time (GMT+1) and landed back at Seville 2 hours 10 minutes later.
Experimental Test Pilot Christophe Marchand captained the flight, supported by Experimental Test Pilot Etienne Miche-de-Malleray. The crew also included Test Flight Engineer Jean-Paul Lambert and Flight Test Engineers Ludovic Girard and Cesar Gonzales-Gomez.
Grizzly 5 is the final member of the fleet which has now completed more than 2,500 hours of the 3,700 hour flight-test program leading to first delivery. It carries a light flight-test instrumentation load and will be primarily dedicated to electromagnetic interference (EMI)-testing, cargo development, operational demonstrations and extreme cold weather trials.
Airbus Head of Flight Operations Fernando Alonso said: "The first flight of Grizzly 5 is right on schedule and is an excellent way to end this second year of A400M flight-testing. It provides a strong platform from which to address the challenging year ahead leading to first delivery to the French Air Force."
During 2011 the A400M has successfully completed an extremely intensive test schedule and the aircraft has now been flown by more than 60 pilots. The key high-energy rejected take-off test has been passed as well as emergency evacuations in different configurations. Crosswind and wet runway testing is complete, and so is testing with artificial ice shapes fitted to the wings.
All stalling and braking tests have been passed, together with cruise performance, and the minimum unstick speed (Vmu), minimum control speed on ground (Vmcg) and minimum control speed in the air (Vmca) tests are also complete.
The Grizzly fleet will immediately start 2012 with an aggressive test program, including an increasing proportion of military tests, in preparation for first delivery around the turn of the year 2012/2013.