Tuesday, December 21, 2010

4th A400M Takes Off

PARIS - The fourth development A400M aircraft, dubbed Grizzly 4, made its maiden flight Dec. 20, taking off from Seville, Spain, and marking a milestone in the program to field the new military airlifter, Airbus Military said.
EADS, the parent company of Airbus Military, is expected to sign by the end of December the 3.5 billion euro ($4.6 billion) agreement needed to fund the cost overrun of the A400M transport aircraft program. The deal was reached in March with the customer countries, but detailed negotiations needed to be completed to draw up the documents setting out the accord.
The program to build the A400M military transport plane includes five development aircraft, which will be flown in the test campaign which consists of 3,700 flight hours, the company said in a statement.
The Grizzly 4 plane, weighing 130 tons, took off from Seville at 10:18 a.m. local time and landed five hours and 10 minutes later, the company said. The plane, which was equipped with flight test instruments, will be mainly used to test the handling of freight and in-flight refueling.
Among the crew was test flight engineer Catherine Schneider, the first woman engineer to fly in an inaugural flight of the A400M, Airbus Military said.
The development aircraft have combined to fly for more than 1,000 hours in slightly less than 300 sorties in 2010. The first A400M is due to be delivered in about two years' time, the company said.
The A400M, budgeted at 20 billion euros, is Europe's biggest cooperative defense effort and is running around three years late.

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