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A400M takes to the skies, 6 weeks after fatal crash

AFP · 10 Jun 2015, 15:22

Published: 10 Jun 2015 15:22 GMT+02:00

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The A400M will perform the same routine it has demonstrated at airshows since 2010 every day next week at the air show just outside Paris, the aerospace giant said.

"We have complete confidence in the A400M and we are delighted to fly our demo as planned. We want to share our pride in the aircraft with all the passionate aviators at Le Bourget," said Airbus head of military aircraft Fernando Alonso.

Four people were killed and two were seriously injured when an A400M on a test flight crashed into a field just north of the Seville airport on May 9.

The crash site on May 9th outside Seville. Photo: Cristina Quicler / AFP

Airbus had previously said the A400M would be present at the June 15-21 show, but it had not been clear if to would fly any demonstrations as a number of countries that use the massive turbo-prop troop and cargo transport plane have grounded it pending the outcome of the investigation.

An initial analysis of the black boxes revealed that three of the aircraft's four engines failed, Airbus has said, while other systems operated normally.

Its in-house tests of other engines following the crash also turned up a technical bug in the units which control the engines, which prompted Airbus to recommend that the aircraft be inspected.

Airbus group's chief of strategy Marwan Lahoud told German daily Handelsblatt that the engines of the plane were poorly installed during final assembly, which could have led to the engines malfunctioning and crashing.

"The black boxes confirm it. There was no structural fault, but we have a serious final assembly quality problem," he told the paper after receiving the first results of the analyses of the flight recorders.

Airbus is clearly trying to send a strong signal to the countries that have bought the plane but who have decided not to fly it until the results of the official investigation in Spain are known.

Story continues below…

Spain, Britain, Germany, Turkey and Malaysia grounded their A400M planes, which are assembled in Seville, after the accident.

The crash is only the latest trial for the troubled A400M programme, which was plagued by development setbacks that led to years of delays and costly overruns.

The first aircraft was delivered in 2013, and a total of 174 have been ordered. The aircraft programme has now cost €28 billion ($31.6 billion) compared to €20 billion ($22.5 billion) originally.

The online Spanish news site El Confidencial had claimed in a report that certain safety procedures including testing of the engine controls in a simulator had been skipped as the company is under pressure to step up delivery of the planes.

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