Airbus Defence and Space has successfully demonstrated the capability of the A400M new generation airlifter to operate on a sand runway – the last of three unprepared types of surface on which it will be certified. The tests using the development aircraft MSN2 took place over a three week period in August on a specially constructed airstrip at Woodbridge, UK. A final week of tests will include operations at increasingly higher weights. The A400M demonstrated excellent performance in taxying manoeuvres, such as U-turns, and during take-off and landing on the 1,600m (5,250ft) strip. These tests followed earlier successful results on the gravel surface at Ablitas in Spain and a grass runway at Écury in France. The photo shows MSN2 taking off from Woodbridge.