Engine Supplier Blamed For Slip In A400M Schedule
Aerospace consortium EADS formally announced Wednesday delays in
another Airbus development program, this time for the A400M
"A400M deliveries are now expected to start six months later
than initially planned with a risk of a further slippage of up to a
half year," EADS representatives told Reuters.
EADS also confirmed reports by several European media sources
over the past several days that 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
"The rescheduling of the program is driven by the slow progress
in engine development..., schedule overruns in the systems
development and a flight test program that differs significantly
from that of commercial Airbus aircraft," EADS stated.
Earlier this year, EADS budgeted about $500 million US for costs
related to looming delays with the A400M. Analysts say the cost
will likely be much higher, however, with this formal
UBS analyst Colin Crook puts the pricetag at one billion euros,
or $1.45 billion US at current exchange rates. Sash Tusa with
Goldman Sachs puts the likely pricetag at closer to 900 billion
Euros, nearly half of which will likely come from payouts Airbus
will have to make to early customers.
"The first six to eight aircraft with the weaker wings and
excess structural weight are likely on our calculations to have a
payload deficiency of at least 20 percent... These aircraft would
therefore be incapable of carrying the contractually specified
armored fighting vehicles," Tusa wrote in a research note.
The actual pricetag won't be officially reported until a
November 8 earnings disclosure.
The setback also delays the aircraft's maiden flight, which
won't occur until July 2008 at the earliest, according to a
top-level Airbus official. That represents about a six-month delay
over original estimates... and analysts warn it could be
The A400M is intended as Europe's answer to the erstwhile, but
aging, C-130 Hercules turboprop transport. Like the American plane,
the A400M is also a four-engine, medium-lift aircraft, intended
primarily for troop and equipment transport. Planning for the
aircraft began in the mid-1980s, but several technical issues and a
fair amount of political backbiting prevented the placement of
first orders until 2003.
To date, nine countries have signed on for a combined 192
aircraft. The original launch order -- a 180-plane deal from
France, Germany, Spain, Britain, Belgium, Luxembourg and Turkey --
was the largest ever single arms purchase in Europe, according to
Reuters. South Africa and Malaysia also signed on the dotted line
for the aircraft; an order from Chile was later cancelled.