EADS now expects first flight of the Marshall Aerospace C-130 flying testbed fitted with the Europrop International TP400 engine in mid-August. It's a critical milestone to get the A400M military airlifter to its first flight.
EADS CEO Louis Gallois says the company has sent engineers to Marshall to help work on one of the issues delaying the program, getting the instrumentation on the C-130 for the engine.
(credit: Marshall Aerospace)
But Gallois also is worried about something more mundane. The flying test bed will only fly if the weather is good, so the English summer weather could be an issue, he suggests.
But there are also still development problems with the engine. Here's what we reported this week on our AWIN premium website:Further A400M First-Flight Delay Expected
Robert Wall firstname.lastname@example.org
New engine development problems with the Europrop International TP400 powerplant make it increasingly unlikely Airbus Military will meet its goal of flying the A400M military airlifter before November.
During recent test runs of the engine, two problems were encountered that have slowed progress. One was during water ingestion trials, the other occurred when a propeller gearbox leaked oil, says Tom Williams, Airbus executive vice president for programs.
Airbus officials believe the water ingestion issue can be fixed relatively easily, but the gearbox malfunction is still under investigation.
Both the tests occurred on test stands, not the C-130 flying testbed to be used for first flight of the TP400.
Accordingly, achieving the A400M’s first flight by the end of October is “getting more and more unlikely,” William concedes. Still, progress with the flying testbed at Marshall Aerospace also has been moving forward only slowly. Developers were hoping to start flight trials this month, but ground runs have been slow to progress. Only a handful of ground runs have been completed, and some had to be shut down early, he suggests. High-speed taxi tests are still 2-3 weeks off, he notes.
Even once flight trials start, the flying testbed is expected to achieve around 50 hours before A400M flight testing would start.
Developers also are still waiting for the final software version for the engine’s full authority digital flight control system.