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With today's first flight of MSN6, the flight test fleet for the A400M military airlifter is now complete.(Photo: Airbus Military)The fifth flight test aircraft (it is MSN6 because one flight test aircraft was taken out of the program early on) is in the final aircraft configuration and will be used for function and reliability testing, an important stage to validate the product before handing actual transports to customers.All five aircraft are due to wrap up their work in time for the first customer delivery of MSN7 to France no later than March 2013; Airbus Military is still holding out hope for an early delivery in late 2012.The flight test fleet is to accumulate around 3,700 flight test hours by then, with more than 2,500 already logged. In announcing the first flight of MSN6, Airbus Military highlights some recent test achievements, noting that "the key high-energy rejected take-off test has been passed as well as emergency evacuations in different configurations. Crosswind and wet runway testing is complete, and so is testing with artificial ice shapes fitted to the wings. All stalling and braking tests have been passed, together with cruise performance, and the minimum unstick speed (Vmu), minimum control speed on ground (Vmcg) and minimum control speed in the air (Vmca) tests are also complete."The next milestone for the program is a partial type certification due in early next year, with the full type certificate to follow in the second quarter -- that is a slight delay to the program, although officials stress most of the tasks needed for certification will be completed before year-end.The first flight took place at Seville at 8:55 local time and lasted 130 minutes; the aircraft had a take-off weight of 125 metric tons, says Airbus Military.
ar99, A400M, Airbus
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