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RAF cargo plane to undergo runway trials at Suffolk airfield

The military Airbus A400M transport plane (AP Photo/Miguel Angel Morenatti)

The military Airbus A400M transport plane (AP Photo/Miguel Angel Morenatti)

A giant of the sky, capable of carrying almost 40 tonnes of cargo, will be tested on a runway in Suffolk over the coming weeks.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced trials would be carried out on the Airbus A400M military transport aircraft at Woodbridge Airfield, just east of the town, in Sutton Heath.

It has not been confirmed when the aircraft will arrive at the base, but a window of about five weeks has been reserved for natural surface landing trials to be conducted on site.

Woodbridge Airfield was identified by Airbus Defence and Space as the site to test the new multinational, four-engined transport aircraft.

According to the MoD, preparation for the trials involved a great deal of construction work by 23 Parachute Engineer Regiment, based at the neighbouring Rock Barracks, to create a natural surface on Woodbridge Airfield for the A400M.

The aircraft is near completion but has encountered delays between its launch in 2003 and its first operational flight in March last year.

The Royal Air Force took delivery of its first Airbus A400M in November 2014, with another 21 to be delivered over the next few years.

The UK put a temporary hold on operations after an A400M crashed on a test flight near Seville Airport last May.

A period of about five weeks, until Friday, September 9, has been set aside for the trials – the majority of which will be carried out in August, with a week in September planned in case of bad weather.

There may be a requirement for some flying at night and weekends, but the trials will largely involve collecting data from various take off and landings during the working day.

The MoD said the trials would be a “fantastic opportunity” for 23 Parachute Engineer Regiment to test an aircraft that will be the backbone of the RAF’s transport aircraft fleet for the coming decades.

The MoD has appeal for understanding from the public during the trials.

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