Airbus Military is formally adopting the name Grizzly for its five-strong development fleet of A400M airlifters.
Source: Airbus, Ramadier
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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 Ureña 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.”
About Catherine Maunoury
Catherine Maunoury is one of France´s most celebrated pilots and among the most successful aerobatic pilots in the world. After obtaining her pilot´s licence aged 17, she became French national aerobatic champion in 1980 and went on to win the title ten times. In 1988 and 2000 she was also world aerobatic champion. In recent years she has focused on coaching aerobatic pilots, display flying, sharing her experiences through lectures, and motivational speaking. Catherine Maunoury has won numerous French honours including the Prix Icare, Médaille de l’Aéronautique, Officier de l’Ordre du Mérite, and Officier de la Légion d’Honneur. She was recently selected to be the next Director of the Museé de l’Air et de l’Espace in Paris. She has two sons and is the widow of architect, aviation artist and pilot Dominique Maunoury.
About the grizzly bear
Despite its scientific name Ursus arctos horribilis, the grizzly bear is primarily vegetarian and females spend more than two years raising their young. Nevertheless they may weigh upwards of 700lb (320 kg) and can run at speeds of more than 30 mph (50 km/hr). Grizzlies are a sub-species of the brown bear Ursus arctos and normally lead a solitary and territorial existence. Their common name comes from their silver-tipped fur which gives rise to what was originally called a ‘grizzly’ appearance. Their famous hunched look is due to a muscular hump that gives them additional strength for running and digging. Grizzlies are today found overwhelmingly in Canada and Alaska, with much smaller numbers in north-western USA where it is a protected species. The European brown bear is very closely related.
About A400M Grizzly
The A400M Grizzly is an all-new military airlifter designed to meet the needs of the world’s Armed Forces in the 21st Century. Thanks to its most advanced technologies, it is able to fly higher, faster and further, while retaining high manoeuvrability, low speed, and short, soft and rough airfield capabilities. It combines both tactical and strategic/logistic missions. With its cargo hold specifically designed to carry the outsize equipment needed today for both military and humanitarian disaster relief missions, it can bring this material quickly and directly to where it is most needed. Conceived to be highly reliable, dependable, and with a great survivability, the multipurpose A400M Grizzly can do more with less, implying smaller fleets and less investment from the operator. The A400M Grizzly is the most cost efficient and versatile airlifter ever conceived and absolutely unique in its capabilities
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