A400M's TP400 turboprop engine undergoes first flight test

The A400M military transport programme crossed an important milestone with the first flight of its much delayed TP400 turboprop engine on a Lockheed Martin C-130K test bed.

The flight took place at Marshall Aerospace's Cambridge, England, facility, with the aircraft reaching an altitude of 8,000 feet.

"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," A400M programme chief Rafael Tentor said in an Airbus Military statement.

Airbus Military, the recently merged aerospace defence units of EADS and Airbus commercial, hired Marshall Aerospace to integrate the TP400 engine on the C-130 test bed.

The engine programme has been repeatedly delayed, mainly on account of engine development problems and then by problems in integrating the huge power plant on the C-130. Engine testing on the ground had commenced in 2005.

The 11,000-shaft horsepower engine is developed by the Europrop International joint venture of Rolls-Royce, Snecma, MTU and ITP.

The flight commences a test programme that will involve around 50 flight hours. The A400M's first flight is expected only in the second half of next year.