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Transport Plane Celebrates Carbon Composite First

13 January 2010

The first Airbus Military A400M military airlifter, which uses carbon fibre composite wings, has been given its debut flight in Seville, Spain.

The A400M features wing skins and stringers manufactured using HexPly M21 carbon fibre/epoxy prepregs from Hexcel. Hexcel prepregs were also used in the empennage and a number of secondary structures including fairings.

The maiden flight lasted three hours and 47 minutes.

Chief Test Pilot, Ed Strongman, said: ""We have had a very successful first flight - the take-off performance was impressive, we explored a lot of the operational flight envelope, and it was a delight to operate in such a well-designed cockpit with its easy interface to all the normal and military systems. I'm sure our customer pilots are really going to like it - we certainly did.""

For its first flight, the aircraft took off at a weight of 127 tonnes, carrying 15 tonnes of test equipment including two tonnes of water ballast. The maximum take-off weight the A400 is expected to carry is around 141 tonnes.

In addition to these prepregs, Hexcel’s HexWeb engineered core honeycomb components are also used within several sandwich structures in the aircraft.

Hexcel materials are also used for A400M engine parts, including the rotor blades.