2014-07-05 At a presentation in early June 2014 to the Airbus Defence and Space Trade Media briefing held in Spain,the head of the A400M Program within the company, Rafael Tentor-Aunon, noted that 90% of the flight-testing is now done with 6343 flight hours and 2278 flights conducted.
And in a separate briefing by Eric Isorce to the Trade Media even, the status of A400M flight status through early June 2014 was provided.
The 10% of flight-testing that remains really was focused on further enhancements of what the aircraft will provide for a combat force.
A key one is clearly air-to-air refueling as both tanker and receiver.
An additional aspect is the testing night vision operations which are an important element of 21st century combat capability.
And finally, finishing the testing of defensive aids for the modern airlifter needs to be able to land near the point of attack to provide support for 21st century operations.
In short, the A400M is now in service, and its in service experience will now inform the further development of the aircraft as a key enabler of operations.
It will be less about developmental flight testing, and moving to support of the aircraft and evolving its capabilities through real world experience.
The videos below provides a visual perspective on various aspects of the test program to date.
A400M Self-Protection Testing
Airbus Military’s A400M airlifter has successfully demonstrated the release of decoy flares, marking a key development step for this new-generation aircraft’s self-protection systems.
The flares are designed to mislead heat-seeking anti-aircraft missiles, particularly surface-to-air missiles (SAM).
They are a key element in the A400M’s self-protection systems due to the airlifter’s ability to operate from short and unpaved airstrips close to the scene of military action, where SAMS may be fielded by an enemy.
18 June 2013
Testing Paratrooper Operations
The A400M was originally conceived of in a world where lifters were trucks to carry cargo and troops from point A to B.
This world has totally been transformed by operations in the past decade, during which the A400M was being developed and readied for its roll out into operations.
With the last decade of experience and the revolution in air dropping, the air lifter is an integral part of the kind of expeditionary logistics, which insertion forces clearly need to operate with for 21st century operations.
The ability to carry troops and equipment, which can exit the aircraft from the side and back, respectively, provides an interesting operational capability as well.
25 April 2014
A400M Load Out Testing
These loading tests were conducted at Boscombe Down, UK. 3 -4 July 2013.
According to Airbus Defence and Space:
With a maximum payload of up to 37 tonnes (81 600 lb) and a volume of 340 m3 (12 000 ft3), the A400M can carry numerous pieces of outsize cargo including, vehicles and helicopters that are too large or too heavy for previous generation tactical airlifters, for example, an NH90 or a CH-47 Chinook helicopter, or two heavy armoured vehicles for military purposes.
It can also carry a heavy logistic truck, or a rescue boat, or large lifting devices, such as excavators or mobile cranes needed to assist in disaster relief.
The A400M can also carry 116 personnel, or paratroops. Because of the width of the A400M’s fuselage, they can be seated in four rows, all along the two sides of the fuselage, and back to back along the centre-line, with enough space in between the facing rows.
With its maximum payload of 37 tonnes (81 600 lb) allowing to airlift an heavy mobile crane, four personnels and three military pallets, the A400M has an operating range of 1780 nm (3300 km).
Once on the ground, the A400M is designed for very rapid and autonomous cargo loading or unloading without any specialized ground support equipment.
Fitted with on-board 32-tonne capable powered winch and an (optional) five tonne / 11,000 lb capable crane to load directly from ground level, the cargo hold is optimised for single loadmaster operation from a computerised workstation, where the loadmaster can pre-plan loading from a loads data base.
Furthermore, the A400M’s landing gear can “kneel” down in order to reduce the angle of the ramp facilitate the off- and on-loading of material.
This allows loading and unloading without ground assistance at the most remote and austere strips, minimising vulnerable time on the ground.
This reduces the aircraft’s vulnerability to hostile action, hence increasing its survivability.
The A400M can also conduct cross-loading with other strategic transports without the need to reconfigure loads in ‘hub and spoke’ operations.
A View of the A400M Landing
The A400M multi-vision system is highlighted in this video.
According to the RAF:
The two-pilot flight deck crew will have the benefit of an integrated, digital avionics system in the cockpit and a fly-by-wire control system.
Additional systems will provide a night-vision-compatible glass cockpit complete with two head-up displays supported by at least five multi-function displays that will allow state-of-the-art avionics developments to be incorporated to the flight-deck design, so greatly reducing crew workload.
18 January 2013
A400M Loading NH-90 Helicopter
In this video the A400M is seen loading the NH-90 in a time lapse video.
The A400M combines the landing characteristics of a C-130 with the ability to carry outsized equipment like the C-17.
18 June 2012
A400M Formation Flying
Five Airbus Military A400M flight test aircraft in Toulouse are taking off together and doing some formation flying. The Airbus Military Flight Test team then broke formation and then each aircraft continued its specific flight test activity.
8 June 2012
Credit for Videos: Airbus Defence and Space