UPDATED 10 MAY 2015 | An Airbus A400M military transport aircraft has crashed in Sevilla (Seville), Spain, on Saturday 9 May. The aircraft came down shortly after take off from Aeropuerto de Sevilla, where the Airbus A400M is produced. Four people are known to have died. Two more occupants were rushed to hospital with severe injuries, according to local authorities. Malaysia, Germany, Turkey and the UK have suspended A400M flights as a precaution.
The crash happened around 12.45pm local time at the start of a test flight, with the aircraft coming down in a field. Radar images suggest the aircraft took of from runway 09, turned left to the North, but kept turning left until impacting the ground to the Northeast of the airport. Images from the scene – see below – suggest the crew attempted landing in a field, but hit power lines sparking a fire.
Sevilla airport was closed immediately, with other flights being diverted. The accident is the second major military aviation incident in Spain this year, following the fatal crash of a Greek F-16 at Albacete in January.
— AircraftTalking (@AircraftTalking) May 9, 2015
Turkish Air Force
The A400M involved was the third destined for the Turkish Air Force and it was to perform its very first flight. Airbus on Saturday afternoon issued a statement on the crash. The complete statement:
“We confirm that there has been an accident with an A400M in Sevilla. At this point, we can confirm that the aircraft is MSN23, an aircraft foreseen for the Turkish customer. The crisis room is open. A Go-Team is on its way to Sevilla. We are coordinating with the relevant authorities. We will come back in due time with any confirmed information as soon as available.”
The accident, whatever the cause, is a devastating blow to the already troubled A400M project and Airbus. The A400M, which first flew on 11 December 2009, is plagued by teething problems, much to the dismal of the German Air Force.
Airbus took actions earlier this year to solve supply problems and speed up production. Changes were also made high in the Airbus Defense & Space organization. Airbus this week reported on tests with defensive systems on a UK A400M.
According to reports the Royal Air Force grounded its two A400Ms following the crash, with the Luftwaffe following suite with its sole A400M. Malaysia also stated it is suspending operations with its single A400M. No word about grounding (yet) of the A400Ms in service with France.
The UK earlier set back the date on which the A400M was supposed to reach initial operational capability (IOC). France is currently the only country where the Airbus airlifter has already given a significant operational role.
A total of twelve A400Ms are now in use with the air forces of France, the UK, Germany, Turkey and Malaysia. The type is set to replace large numbers of older C-130 Hercules C-160 Transall transport aircraft in these air forces. Belgium, Luxembourg and Spain have also ordered the A400M. The order total stands at 174, according to Airbus figures.
See our earlier coverage on the A400M here.
© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest
Featured image (top): The cockpit section of the crashed A400M. (Image received through social media; photographer unknown)