Airbus Military (Seville, Spain) reported on Sept. 4 that it has completed an important set of trials of the A400M Atlas airlifter, demonstrating the aircraft’s good performance on gravel runways.
In tests lasting more than a week at Ablitas in northern Spain, development aircraft MSN2 performed 25 landings during six flights on the same runway. The trials confirmed that despite the harsh conditions, damage to the aircraft exterior from stones and dust was minimal and within expectations, and the runway remained usable after repeated operations.
Demonstrations included ground maneuvering, rejected takeoffs and use of propeller reverse thrust at speeds as low as 70 kt (130 kmh/81 mph), none of which caused engine or cockpit contamination.
Tests were successfully performed with and without the optional nosewheel deflector that can be fitted to protect the aircraft during such operations, underlying the A400M’s ability to operate to and from rough strips close to the scene of military or humanitarian action in addition to its strategic capability.
Head of A400M Flight Tests, Eric Isorce, says, “We are extremely pleased with the results of these tests which were very close to all predictions and confirm the A400M's capability to operate successfully from gravel runways.”