Oft-Delayed Military Transport Could Finally Be On Track
European planemaker Airbus announced Wednesday its delay-prone
A400M military transport turboprop will finally see light under its
landing gear this summer.
In a conference at the 2008 Singapore Air Show, Airbus CEO
Thomas Enders expressed confidence the program's troubles were
behind it, with no further delays on top of the 6-12 month
postponement announced in January.
"We intend to fly the aircraft in summer this year," Enders
said, according to Reuters. "We are in the time frame that we have
predicted, that is, up to one year," he added, in reference to the
As ANN reported, Airbus
parent-company EADS announced in October 2007 the four-engine
turboprop transport -- intended as a competitor to, and replacement
for, the aging Lockheed Martin C-130 -- would be delayed as much as
At that time, EADS confirmed reports EPI, an engine consortium
including Rolls Royce and companies from France, Germany and Italy,
was behind in work on the TPM400 turboprop engine which will power
the aircraft. In January, Airbus added another 3-6 months to that
The current schedule is dependent on successful testing of the
EPI engines, among the largest turboprop powerplants ever built.
EPI is slated to test the TPM400 in April.
Despite the delays -- on top of the program's 20-year gestation
period -- Airbus says none of the company's 192 orders for the
A400M have been cancelled. Germany, France, Spain and Britain are
the aircraft's biggest customers.
In addition to competing directly with the C-130, Airbus also
sees the A400M as a competitor in some aspects to the larger,
turbofan-powered Boeing C-17 Globemaster III.