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Tue, Apr 15, 2008

EADS Says Oft-Delayed A400M Closer To First Flight

MSN001 Powered-On, Engine Tests To Begin Soon

Representatives with European Aeronautic Defense and Space company (EADS) tell ANN the first Airbus A400M military transport turboprop, MSN001, recently left station 40 where all the aircraft systems' interfaces have been connected and the electrical system has been successfully tested with power-on. These activities are in line with the current program plan.

From station 40 the aircraft has been moved to station 35 where all the systems on board will be checked for compliance with design requirements and data automatically recorded for later analysis and evaluation. This represents an important step forward as station 35 is one of the few stations left before first flight.

In previous operations undertaken at station 40, the complete airframe was assembled with the wings and the vertical and horizontal tail planes being joined to the fuselage. On this particular first aircraft, the work at this station was temporary interrupted to proceed with the required structural ground test prior to First Flight.

EADS announced in October 2007 the four-engine turboprop transport -- a project 20 years in the making, and intended as a competitor to, and replacement for, the aging Lockheed Martin C-130 -- would be delayed as much as six months. As ANN reported, in February Airbus CEO Thomas Enders told attendees at the Singapore Airshow the program's troubles were behind it, with no further delays on top of the 6-12 month postponement announced in January.

EADS said this week engine installation on MSN001 is now underway. Since delivery to FAL, intensive work around the engines have been performed following the scheduled activities, including incoming inspection, and engine build up/dressing process (station 25-equipping), in which the engines are equipped with the electrical harnesses, different pipes and airframe components required prior installation on the MSN001.

Normal functioning checks and power assurance have also being performed. At station 25, the flight test instrumentation is also installed on this development aircraft. Later, the four engines will be moved to station 20 for installation on the aircraft.

EADS also notes Engine Flight Clearance activities continue and the dedicated Flying Test Bed -- ironically, a modified C-130 -- on which a TP400 engine has been installed, is being readied to begin the flight test program, which is expected to begin shortly.

FMI: www.eads.com, www.airbusmilitary.com

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