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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A400M Fatigue Setting In

There may be fatigue setting in on the A400M over the nearly two-year process it is taking to rework the contract for the military transport aircraft, but today it is a different type of fatigue that's in the spotlight. Airbus Military has released this picture of MSN5001, a ground test A400M, commencing fatigue testing:

blog post photo

The work is taking place in Dresden.

Several test periods are planned, with the first one lasting four weeks in which the airframe will be put through the equivalent of 160 flights.

Airbus Military notes that "the first 1,665 simulated flights are required for European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) type certification of the A400M, but over the next 18 months a total of 25,000 simulated flights will be performed – equating to 2.5 times the A400M´s design-life." Airbus CEO Tom Enders says civil type certification is due to be in-hand by year-end.

Static testing of MSN5000 is already done, but the manufacturer says more tests will be performed throughout the year and into early next year with the airframe.

As to the A400M contract discussions, the German parliament is to review the program this week. Once that is done, and unless new problems emerge, the customer countries can move forward with issuing a new contract. It took a year to negotiate the basic terms of the contract, and then almost another year to move from the basic agreement, reached in March of last year, to a finalized deal.

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