SOURCE: EADS North America

December 18, 2008 10:32 ET

EADS' A400M Engine Completes First Flight

The A400M's TP400 Engine Completes First Flight on a C-130 Test-Bed Aircraft

MADRID, SPAIN--(Marketwire - December 18, 2008) - The TP400 power-plant developed for the A400M by EuroProp International (EPI) took to the air for the first time on Dec. 17, 2008 on a C-130K flight test bed. The TP400 is installed on the inner left engine mount of the C-130K which is otherwise powered by three of the usually four Allison T56 turbopropellers. The aircraft took off at 10:44 a.m. local time from Cambridge airfield in the United Kingdom where Marshall Aerospace, which is conducting the flight test-bed trials, is based, and touched down at 11:59 a.m. local time. The flight lasted one hour and 15 minutes.

During the flight, various flight characteristics such as aircraft basic handling and TP400 response at a thrust equivalent to the maximum power generated by each of the other T56 engines were tested to satisfaction in several aircraft configurations up to a speed of 165 knots and an altitude of 8,000 feet. This was a first step in the aircraft envelope opening. It will allow progress towards the completion of the approximately 50 flight test hours planned to reach sufficient maturity for the engine itself. Once this is achieved and sufficient maturity and satisfactory integration is also reached for the global propulsion system, it will be able to subsequently fly on the A400M.

EPI, which comprises Rolls Royce, SNECMA, MTU and ITP, started testing the TP400 in October, 2005. More than 2,100 hours of ground testing have been performed with three engines on the ground test bench. To complete the trials, Marshall Aerospace was contracted by Airbus Military to perform the Flying Test Bed trials on a C-130K. The aircraft was specifically modified to accept the new engine which develops about twice the power of the C-130K's standard T56 engine.

"The successful completion of this first flight of the TP400 engine is a significant step in the A400M program development," said Rafael Tentor, Head of the A400M program. "This and the subsequent flights will comfort us in the performance of the new engine itself, as well as its reliability, in a real flying environment. This objective also applies to the global propulsion system," he added.

The EuroProp International (EPI) TP400 engine is a three shaft free turbine turbopropeller which drives an eight bladed five-meter-diameter propeller. Developing 11,000 shaft horsepower at takeoff, it is the most powerful turboprop ever built in the western world. It allows for the wide range of speeds and flight levels required, while reducing fuel burn and weight. Powered by four of these, the A400M can cruise at altitudes as high as 37,000 feet at speeds between Mach 0.68 and 0.72 while retaining the capability of flying at speeds as low as 110 knots at 5,000 feet. The arrangement of the propellers, which turn in opposite directions inboard and outboard on each wing, allows a structural weight reduction, and improves, among other things, the lift at low speed.

The A400M is an all new military airlifter designed to meet the needs of the world's Armed Forces in the 21st Century. Thanks to its most advanced technologies, this excellent aircraft will be able to fly higher, faster and further, while retaining high maneuverability, low speed, and short, soft and rough airfield capabilities. It combines both tactical and strategic/logistic missions. With its cargo hold specifically designed to carry the outsize equipment needed today for both military and humanitarian disaster relief missions, it can bring this material quickly and directly to where it is most needed. Conceived to be highly reliable, dependable, and with a great survivability, the multipurpose A400M can do more with less, implying smaller fleets and less investment from the operator. The A400M is the most cost efficient and versatile airlifter.