On March 12th this year the rigorous static test programme began on “Aircraft 5000”, the A400M static test specimen installed at the test facility in Getafe, near Madrid. Data is now being processed after a period of intensive work installing the hydraulic actuators and the sophisticated control and measuring systems.
Loads will be applied to the airframe by means of 125 hydraulic jacks, which will severely test the structural resistance and fatigue characteristics of the new airlifter. The stresses applied to the structure under load will be measured by 6000 strain gauges and the data fed for analysis by purpose-built computer programmes via 21 kilometres of cable.
Around 30% of the A400M airframe consists of carbon fibre, including the wing main spar. This is a “first” for a large transport aircraft and particular attention will be paid to the performance of the materials used.
The tests are designed to demonstrate the limit loads, the maximum anticipated loads that the aircraft is expected to experience in service, and then to explore the ultimate loads, which represent one-and-half times the limit loads.
Finally, the tests will continue to the point of rupture of certain structural elements thus providing data on the design margins.
Static Test Programme Begins On Aircraft MSN 5000