Take-off of the first Luftwaffe A400M from Seville, Spain, on 14 October 2014 (Image © Airbus Defence & Space)

Maiden flight Luftwaffe Airbus A400M

Take-off of the first Luftwaffe A400M from Seville, Spain, on 14 October 2014 (Image © Airbus Defence & Space)
Take-off of the first Luftwaffe A400M from Seville, Spain, on 14 October 2014 (Image © Airbus Defence & Space)

The first German Air Force Airbus A400M performed its first flight on 14 October 2014. The aircraft took off from the Airbus Military facility in Seville, Spain, for a test flight over the Mediterranean Sea. It was spotted on Flightradar24.com with the temporary registration EC 408, followed by confirmation from an Airbus spokesperson that indeed the planned first flight of the A400M was taking place on Tuesday afternoon.

After take-off the MSN18 – as it is known with Airbus – took off for a pattern all the way to the northern edge of the Spanish region of Andalusia, turning south near the village of Santa Eufemia. Then it headed south to Mabella on the coast to pick up speed up to more than 460 knots on an eastbound track over the Alboran Sea – as the Mediterranean water between Morocco and Europe is called. It made a 180 degree turn west around 16:00, roughly somewhere in the middle of the cities of Melilla in Africa and Almeria in Spain and continued flying up to 31,000 feet of altitude.

The 54+01 (as it will be registered within the German Air Force) turned eastwards for a second track, avoiding two EasyJet and one Thomas Cook airliners on their way from Europe to Africa.

500 knots
During the third eastbound track the Airbus crew took the Airbus to 35,000 feet while maintaining speeds of 410 to 435 knots. The western leg that followed was more zigzag and turned into shorter north-south bound tracks while gaining speed up to almost 500 knots. Afterwards, the Luftwaffe A400M made a sharp turn near the village of La Cala de Mijas close to Fuengirola in southern Spain and headed back to open water. After some zigzagging it finally headed back to Seville and landed safely 4 hours and 58 minutes after take-off.

The first German Air Force A400M (54+01 or MSN18) during taxi trials on 13 October 2014 at the Airbus plant in Seville, Spain (Image © Airbus Defence & Space)
The first German Air Force A400M (54+01 or MSN18) during taxi trials on 13 October 2014 at the Airbus plant in Seville, Spain (Image © Airbus Defence & Space)

Reporting for duty
Germany’s premier A400M performed its taxi trials as late as Monday 13 October, after receiving its official paint scheme on 10 October. Lufttransportgeschwader 62 (Air Transport Wing 62 or LTG62) at Wunstorf Airbase in Germany is expecting the first Airbus A400M reporting for duty before the end of the year. MSN18/54+01 is the first of 53 ordered by the German Air Force and will be known in-service as the A400M Atlas.

© 2014 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger, with contribution of editor Elmer van Hest

Track of the maiden flight of the first German Air Force A400M at around 17:00 local time (UTC 15:00). (Artist impression of screen © FlightRadar24.com)
Track of the maiden flight of the first German Air Force A400M at around 17:00 local time (UTC 15:00).
(Image © FlightRadar24.com)