MIAMI — Airbus’ troubled A400M airlifter, the proposed replacement for a generation of Hercules type military logistics and transport aircraft, made a triumphant return to the world’s skies last week at the Paris Air show, following a deadly crash in May. Airbus-owned MSN006 performed an impressive flying display at Le Bourget last week, and a French Armée de l’Air aircraft on static display was the subject of much interest.
AirwaysNews captured a timelapse of the five-plus minute aerobatic demonstration, both during the week…
…and on Friday, the first public day of the air show.
The Grizzly (or, as it’s now officially called, Atlas) shook a defiant paw at its critics, with the ill-starred program showing that it’s not counted out yet. The latest strike against the A400M was the crash of MSN023 on May 9th this year on a test flight killing four Airbus crew on board and seriously injuring two others near Seville in Spain, where the aircraft is manufactured.
After the Seville accident, there had been significant concerns about whether the A400M would be cleared for a return to flight in time for Le Bourget, but fortunately — for attendees and for the program — the (air) show went on as preliminary investigations were continuing.
“CITAAM [the Commission for Technical Research of Military Aircraft Accidents of Spain’s defence ministry] confirmed that engines 1, 2 and 3 experienced power frozen after lift-off and did not respond to the crew’s attempts to control the power setting in the normal way, whilst engine 4 responded to throttle demands. When the power levers were set to “flight idle” in an attempt to reduce power, the power reduced but then remained at “flight idle” on the three affected engines for the remainder of the flight despite attempts by the crew to regain power,” Airbus said in a statement on 6 June as the final arrangements for the Paris Air Show were being made. However, “preliminary analyses have shown that all other aircraft systems performed normally and did not identify any other abnormalities throughout the flight.”
The A400M is technically a tactical airlifter with a 37-tonne payload, but as the RAF says, it’s a dual role aircraft: “tactical air lift and strategic oversize lift capacity”. The RAF has 22 aircraft on order, Germany 53, France 50, Spain 27, Turkey 10, Belgium 7, Malaysia 4 and Luxembourg 1.
Twelve aircraft have so far been delivered, with France receiving six A400Ms, Germany one, Malaysia one, Turkey two and the UK two. The total order book stands at 174 aircraft.