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A400M First Sortie

A the beginning of 2008, while structural testing of the design is progressing on the static test specimen MSN 5000, located at EADS Casa Getafe's site near Madrid, ground system and load testing began on flight test aircraft MSN 001 at the FAL in Seville.

Crucial to first flight, the test programme is well underway and steady progress is being made on all fronts to achieve the challenging targets for the A400M programme in 2008. The first set of production engines, delivered to the FAL at the end of February, are now being installed on MSN 001, and production is ramping up with the delivery to Seville of the major sub-assemblies of the second development aircraft 'MSN 002'. During 2008, all elements for the other development aircraft will be shipped to Seville. Production is thus in full swing in all the A400M facilities across Europe, Turkey, Malaysia and South Africa to complete the production of these five development aircraft.

In the meantime, the engine test programme is progressing and a number of TP400 engines are undergoing extensive performance and operability tests at the EPI partners' indoor and outdoor test facilities throughout Europe. Over 1000 test hours had been logged on the TP400-D6 engine by the beginning of March. Work on the engine Flying Test Bed (FTB) is also nearing completion. The FTB is part of the initial flight-test programme involving the 11,000 shp turboprop recently installed together with its 5.5m-diameter propeller on a C-130 Hercules test bed at Marshall Aerospace UK. The first flight of the modified Hercules, due to take place during the spring of this year, is a key precursor to MSN 001's own first flight, scheduled for the summer. As flight testing of the A400M ramps up from this year on, the five development aircraft, two based in Seville and three in Toulouse, will be flown in a rigorous test programme leading to certification."