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Airbus A400M Medium-Range Transport Aircraft
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The Airbus A400M is a multi-national four-engine turboprop military transport aircraft. It was designed by Airbus Military as a tactical airlifter with strategic capabilities.The aircraft's maiden flight, originally planned for 2008, took place on 11 December 2009 in Seville, Spain.
The A400M is undergoing flight testing. Orders totaled 174 aircraft from eight nations as of 2010. Airbus Military is expected to deliver the first aircraft in early 2013
The project began as the Future International Military Airlifter (FIMA) group, set up in 1982 by Aérospatiale, British Aerospace (BAe), Lockheed, and Messerschmitt-Bölkow-Blohm (MBB) to develop a replacement for the C-130 Hercules and Transall C-160. Varying requirements and the complications of international politics caused slow progress. In 1989 Lockheed left the grouping and went on to develop an upgraded Hercules, the C-130J Super Hercules. With the addition of Alenia of Italy and CASA of Spain the FIMA group became Euroflag.
The A400M is positioned as an intermediate size between the Lockheed C-130, and the Boeing C-17. Originally the SNECMA M138 turboprop (based on the M88 core) was selected to power the A400M. Airbus Military issued a new request for proposal (RFP) in April 2002, after which Pratt & Whitney Canada with the PW180 and Europrop International answered; the latter was a new design. Airbus Military preferred the PWC engine, but political interference resulted in the selection of the Europrop TP400-D6 in May 2003.
The partner nations -- France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom, Turkey, Belgium, and Luxembourg -- signed an agreement in May 2003 to buy 212 aircraft. These nations decided to charge the Organisation for Joint Armament Cooperation (OCCAR) with the management of the acquisition of the A400M.
Following the withdrawal of Italy and revision of procurement totals the revised requirement was for 180 aircraft, with first flight in 2008 and first delivery in 2009. On 28 April 2005, South Africa joined the partnership programme with the state-owned Denel Saab Aerostructures receiving a contract for fuselage components.
The A400M assembly at the Seville plant of EADS Spain started in the first quarter of 2007. Airbus plans to manufacture thirty aircraft per year. The major assemblies arrive by Airbus Beluga transporters. The four Europrop TP400-D6 flight test engines were delivered in late February 2008 for the first A400M. Static structural testing of a A400M test airframe began on 12 March 2008 in Spain.
The first flight, originally scheduled for the first quarter of 2008, was postponed due to program delays, schedule adjustments and financial pressures. EADS announced in early January 2008 that continued development problems with the engines had resulted in a delay to the second quarter of 2008 before the first engine test flights on a C-130 testbed aircraft. The first flight of the aircraft, previously scheduled for July 2008, had again been postponed. Civil certification under European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) CS-25 will be followed later by certification for military purposes. The A400M was "rolled out" in Seville on 26 June 2008 at an event presided by King Juan Carlos I of Spain. On 12 January 2011, serial production of the A400M for its first customers started.
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