New Military Transport Plane Airbus A400M Had Technical Problem on December Test Flight

The first test flight of the Airbus A400M military transport plane in December experienced a computer malfunction that affected one of the four propeller engines, according to a confidential report by engine maker Europrop, SPIEGEL has learned. Airbus says the safety of the aircraft was never in any danger and that the problem has been fixed.

The Airbus A400M military transporter landing after its first test flight on December 11, 2009 in Seville.
AFP

The Airbus A400M military transporter landing after its first test flight on December 11, 2009 in Seville.


The first test flight of the Airbus A400M military transport plane on Dec. 11 last year didn't pass off quite as smoothly as had been assumed so far.

Shortly after landing, members of the crew of six had stated that all instruments had worked perfectly. But that's only partly true, according to confidential documents from engine manufacturer Europrop.

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Photo Gallery: The A400M Takes Flight

The documents state that one of the computers controlling the engines showed a malfunction on the turboprop plane a half an hour into the flight. The replacement system received only insufficient data on the position of the thrust levers, so that one of the four engines was automatically switched to idle operation for safety reasons.

The pilots could have tried to solve the problem by shutting off the engine and restarting it in flight. But they seemed to have judged that as too risky, because a failure to restart the engine would have forced them to land with one shut-down propeller.

After the landing, a new control module was immediately ordered for the affected engine. An Airbus spokeswoman said the safety of the aircraft had at no point been in danger as a result of the malfunction during the flight. "It is completely normal for such unexpected incidents to occur during test flights," she said. The problem had now been fixed, she added.

The A400M project has been marred by cost overruns and lengthy delays.

cro/spiegel

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