Britain, Germany and Turkey ground A400 military planes


Britain, Germany and Turkey said Sunday they were temporarily grounding their Airbus A400M military transport planes after one crashed near Seville airport in southern Spain during a test flight.

The move grounds five of the 12 new A400s that have already been delivered, with France saying it had no reason to ground its fleet of six aircraft.

At least four people were killed Saturday when an A400M crashed in the first fatal incident involving the new troop and vehicle transporter manufactured by European aerospace group Airbus.

“After the A400M crash near Seville it was decided Saturday to suspend until further notice the test flights of the German defence forces’ sole A400M,” a German armed forces press officer said on Sunday.

The spokesman added that “since its delivery in December the machine has been in the air on a regular basis”.

“Now we are awaiting results from Airbus on why the A400M crashed near Seville. We are in constant contact with Airbus.”

Britain’s Ministry of Defence earlier said in a statement that “as a precaution” its two A400M aircraft “are temporarily paused.”

Turkey also announced it had suspended flights of its A400Ms.

“Turkey’s air force has temporarily suspended the flights of its two Airbus A400M after the fatal crash of a similar type of aircraft in southern Spain,” state-run Anatolia news agency reported on Sunday.

The planes have been temporarily grounded as part of “security measures,” said Anatolia.

France meanwhile said it had “no facts compelling us to ground our A400M fleet.”

French air force spokesman Colonel Jean-Pascal Breton said that technically, the planes conformed to army requirements and while the army would not skip over security issues “we don’t have any reasons to ground the fleet at this stage.”

Authorities are still trying to establish how many people were on the plane when it went down in a non-residential area around a mile from the airport on Saturday.

Airbus Defence and Space, the division responsible for military aircraft, said the plane was destined for Turkey.

The group sent a team of experts to the crash scene.

The first of the A400Ms was delivered in 2013 to France which now has six. Subsequent planes were delivered to Turkey (2), Germany (1), Britain (2) and Malaysia (1).

A total of 174 A400M planes have been ordered, including 50 by France, 53 by Germany, 27 by Spain and 22 by Britain.

Powered by four turbo-prop engines, the A400M is designed to transport troops and material, including armoured vehicles and helicopters, over great distances at high speeds.

Capable of transporting up to 37 tonnes over 3,300 kilometres, the A400M is still nimble enough to land on irregular terrain.