TOULOUSE/BERLIN (Reuters) - Airbus (AIR.PA) carried out on Tuesday its first test flight of an A400M military transporter plane since Saturday’s fatal crash in Spain that led some European countries to ground the carriers.
Madrid earlier on Tuesday withdrew flight permission for planes currently in production in Spain until more is known about the causes of the crash, which killed four crew members.
Britain, Germany and Turkey grounded their A400M fleets after the crash, the first involving Europe’s largest defense project, which has already been marred by delays and cost overruns.
Airbus has its own fleet of three older A400M planes, which it also uses for test flights, and these planes are not affected by the Spanish ban.
One of the transporters took off from Toulouse around 1345 GMT (9.45 a.m. EDT) on Tuesday, bound for Seville, as Airbus sought to restore confidence in the aircraft.
The planes, which cost just over 100 million euros ($112.34 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 ($22 billion), making it Europe’s biggest single arms contract.
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.
Additional reporting by Emma Pinedo in Spain, Writing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise; editing by Andrew Callus