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Tue, 22 Mar 2011 13:00:00 GMT
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You'll probably recall that back in December a series of tests took place to determine what is known as the aircraft's minimum unstick speed, usually abbreviated to Vmu, and essentially the lowest speed at which the aircraft can possibly lift off the ground. In the last few days that part of the programme has been completed.

On most aircraft, including the A400M, Vmu is limited by how far the nose can be raised before the rear fuselage strikes the runway, and in the tests a large orange 'bumper' is fitted to that area to prevent damage to the aircraft. It makes for a dramatic image and you can see what goes on in the video below.
Mon, 21 Feb 2011 16:20:00 GMT
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Apart from a quick trip to Hamburg in December when temperatures got down to -10°C, the Grizzly team has spent most of its time in the relatively benign climate of Seville and Toulouse. But over the last couple of weeks that has all changed.

First Grizzly 2 and then Grizzly 3 have been to Kiruna in northern Sweden at a latitude of 67° 49'N to set about cold weather testing in earnest. On the first visit, during which temperatures dropped to about -21°C, the focus was on the powerplants following overnight 'cold-soaks', including the propeller controls which have to move those mighty eight-blades on each engine. On the second trip there was more emphasis on the aircraft's other systems, as explained in this very nice video filmed by our own Sylvain Ramadier.

Fri, 18 Feb 2011 19:30:00 GMT
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The A400M has been designed from the outset to be capable of being refuelled, and of refuelling other aircraft - so there is a quite a bit of air-to-air refuelling work to be done during flight-test, all of which started this week.

Residents of Toulouse used to the ever quieter sound of current generation aircraft had a brief reminder of the good old days when a Royal Air Force Vickers VC10 tanker with its four Rolls-Royce Conway engines briefly visited to let the A400M begin trials as a receiver. (Happily the VC10s, magnificent as they are, are being replaced by Airbus Military A330 MRTT tankers - known as the Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft, or FSTA, in the UK.)

In the tests over the last few days the aircraft have conducted 'dry contacts' - in which the receiver plugs into the VC10's fuselage-mounted hose and drum unit (HDU - or "hoodoo") but no fuel is passed. The main focus of the exercise is the aerodynamic interactivity of the two aircraft in close formation. And in fact it turns out that the A400M flight control system is going to need a little tweaking for the refuelling operation - exactly the sort of thing that test-flying is designed to identify. But nothing too serious.

All of this air-to-air refuelling makes for some great air-to-air video as well of course, including the first shots taken though the HUD which you can see below from on board Grizzly 1.
Tue, 21 Dec 2010 00:14:00 GMT
It's difficult to convey the level of satisfaction felt in the team today after Grizzly 4 made its maiden flight and set everyone up for a fantastic end to the year. Not only does it mean that we have four aircraft flying as planned, but we have also just passed 1,000 flight hours.
Wed, 08 Dec 2010 20:11:00 GMT
In-flight icing is one of the most common hazards facing any aircraft, and testing the A400M´s performance with and without icing protection is a fundamental requirement of the certification process.