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Airbus Military A400M development aircraft named Grizzly

Airbus Military is formally adopting the name Grizzly for its five-strong development fleet of A400M airlifters.

The new name is not the product of an expensive marketing study, nor something devised by a team of branding experts, nor the result of months of debate among the sales team. Instead it is the affectionate nickname given to the aircraft by the close-knit group of flight test pilots and engineers who first saw it safely into the air.

When the first aircraft was handed over to the flight-test team in Seville, Spain in November 2009, it was formally known as MSN1 in the time-honoured aviation tradition of referring to the manufacturer's serial number. But, working at the remotely located flight-test centre at the western end of the lengthy Airbus Military flightline at Seville, the team quickly began hunting for a handier nickname.

The Flight Test Team seized on the resemblance between the mighty airlifter's hunched appearance and the muscular shoulders of the grizzly bear, and soon afterwards the aircraft was already being referred to inside flight-test as "the Grizzly". By the time of the first flight on 11th December, the name had stuck sufficiently firmly that it was adopted as the aircraft's radio callsign - Grizzly One.

Furthermore, a little-known fact is that the first flight also carried a party of non-human passengers - teddy bears to raise funds for the EADS-sponsored charity Aviation Without Borders - a nice reminder of the Grizzly's future role in civic and humanitarian missions.

The name rapidly spread throughout Airbus Military and beyond, and at the ILA Berlin airshow in June 2010 an informal Grizzly One logo appeared on MSN1 when it made its first public airshow appearance. Yesterday the company announced that it was adopting the name Grizzly for the five development aircraft to be used during the flight-test programme. In a ceremony at Farnborough, MSN1's sister-ship MSN2 was formally named Grizzly by two-times World Aerobatic Champion Catherine Maunoury of France.

Airbus Military Managing Director Domingo Urena said: "Our Grizzly and the grizzly bear share a rare combination of speed, strength, and agility, so it is no surprise that they also bear a resemblance to each other. We are proud to associate the A400M with one of nature's great creatures."

Press release issued by Airbus Defence & Space HQ on July 23, 2010


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