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Airbus to continue A400M test flights following Spain crash

Source: Reuters - Sun 10th May 2015
Airbus to continue A400M test flights following Spain crash

Europe's biggest aerospace company, Airbus, said on Sunday it would continue test flights for the A400M military transport plane after the fatal crash of one of the aircraft on a test flight in Spain.

Britain, Germany and Turkey grounded their fleets' A400Ms, Europe's new troop and cargo carrier, after the first crash involving Europe's largest defence project, which has already been marred by delays and cost overruns.

France said on Sunday it would limit the use of its six A400Ms to flights of extreme importance.

The next test flight will take place on Tuesday in Toulouse, France, as previously scheduled, a spokesman for the Defence and Space division of Airbus told Reuters on Sunday.

"The A400M flight test programme is continuing as planned unless we are presented with evidence that would cause us to stop," he said.

The crash killed four of the six Spanish test crew. Two are in hospital with serious injuries. Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy asked on Saturday for maximum transparency from Airbus during the investigation into the causes of the crash.

Spain said on Sunday it had found the two black boxes from the crashed aircraft and handed them over to investigators. The Spanish government has sent a team to investigate the accident. The planes, which cost just over 100 million euros (£72.44 million) each, are assembled in Seville.

The A400M Atlas was developed for Spain and six other European NATO nations - Belgium, Britain, France, Germany, Luxembourg and Turkey - at a cost of 20 billion euros, making it Europe's biggest single arms contract. It entered service in 2013 after a delay of more than 3 years.

Problems in delivering the planes on time, and with all the required military features on board, resurfaced last year, triggering a management shake-up and more financial charges.

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