The Airbus Military A400M airlift aircraft received its initial civil type certificate from the European Aviation Safety Agency, the company announced on Thursday. This approval is formally called a Restricted Type Certificate and is a key stage in the process of achieving full civil type certification, which should happen around the middle of this year.
“Achieving civil and military certification of the A400M as foreseen in the programme is an immensely challenging task, but the process of working on both simultaneously provides important benefits for our customers in the future,” said A400M programme head Cedric Gautier. “It is deeply satisfying to receive this initial certification, confirming the good progress that has been made towards the delivery of the first aircraft.”
The aircraft will have to compile 300 hours of function and reliability (F&R) flight tests to achieve full civil certification. Military initial operating clearance is expected later this year.
Recently, A400M aircraft have visited countries in Latin America and South East Asia. In the near future they will, within the framework of F&R tests, visit the programme’s home countries in Europe as well as States in the Middle East.
So far the flying development fleet of five A400M prototypes have accumulated more than 3 100 flying hours, despite what the company calls “continued engine challenges”.
Major South African aeronautical companies Denel Aerostructures and Aerosud are partners in the A400M programme and contribute significant structures and components to the aircraft. Another, smaller, South African company involved in the programme as a supplier, is Cobham, which produces antennas for the aircraft.
The A400M has been designed to function as both a strategic and a tactical airlifter.
In the strategic role it is able to fly at Mach 0.72 (that is, at 72% of the speed of sound, which varies with altitude) at about 12 000 m (37 000 ft) and with a range of 6 390 km with a 20 t payload, or 4 535 km with a 30 t payload.