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20.December 2010

20 December 2010 - Fourth A400M made his maiden flight

copy right: Airbus - AMSL

On the 20th December 2010, the fourth Airbus Military A400M military airlifter has made its first flight. Known as Grizzly 4, the aircraft took off from Seville, Spain with a weight of 130 tonnes at 10h18 local time (GMT+1) and landed five hours and ten minutes later.

Grizzly 4 is the fourth of an eventual five aircraft which will conduct the 3,700 hour flight-test programme. Since the 11th December 2009 the fleet of Grizzlies already complete just over 1,000 hours flight-time and 300 flights.

Grizzly 4 is primarily dedicated to cargo and air-to-air refuelling operations and carries a medium flight-test instrumentation load.

The maiden flight of Grizzly 4 followed the completion of a series of milestones in recent months - notably the first paratrooper jumps from the aircraft, which were highly successful and demonstrated the potential of the aircraft for this military operation. Flights with the ramp and doors open have proceeded smoothly.

An extensive programme of flying the aircraft with simulated icing shapes attached to the wings and tail has been completed. These flights were performed by Airbus and European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) flight crews and represent the first set of certification tests completed on the A400M.

Flight and ground load testing is complete, as is measurement of cruise performance. All major aircraft systems have been tested and flutter tests throughout the flight envelope are extremely close to completion.

The TP400 engines have been performing well, with the in-flight relight capability having been successfully demonstrated and ground starts following an overnight cold-soak recently performed. Behaviour of the auxiliary power unit has been excellent, and it has been started as high as 40,000ft.

Following the A400M's maiden flight on 11the December 2009, earlier this year Grizzly 2 and Grizzly 3 made their first flights in respectively April and July and their introduction into the fleet made possible the demonstrations of the A400M's handling qualities at the Berlin and Farnborough air shows.