Sun, Mar 01, 2009
Magazine Says Country May Abandon Troubled Program
Things appear to be heading from bad
to worse for the stillborn Airbus A400M turboprop. In development
for over 20 years -- but encountering numerous difficulties in
achieving first flight -- the European alternative to the
erstwhile C-130 may soon lose a key international partner.
Citing a report in the German daily Der Spiegel, Reuters states
German procurement officials may recommend that country's military
abandon support for the A400M, unless Airbus and parent company
EADS can explain how -- or if -- they can solve numerous problems
with the troubled program.
As ANN reported, EADS announced in January a
"new approach" for the A400M, telling its partner nations they must
join together to "find a way forward" with the trouble-plagued
aircraft. That way forward reportedly includes hitting up those
nations for more money.
At the time, EADS also announced a three-year delay in first
deliveries for the airlifter... which the company attributed to
issues with the new TP400 turboprop engines. EADS has since taken
flak for that explanation, however.
Enginemaker Safran disputed the assertion it was the TP400
causing problems in making the A400M fly... while last week,
electronics provider Thales accused EADS and Airbus of
hoarding cash received against orders for the
airlifter, while at the same time begging for new development
capital from the companies tasked with building the plane.
Despite the promise of 192 orders for the plane from seven
European NATO countries, Thales CEO Denis Ranque made clear he
intends to invest not another dime in the A400M, above and beyond
what's written down on the existing contract. Also last week, a
British parliamentary panel urged officials to consider pulling
The German report marks the third time in a week a major partner
in the A400M has expressed misgivings about the program... an
ominous portent. A German Defense Ministry spokesman said talks are
ongoing between officials and EADS to resolve the issues... but he
pointedly noted "there are no contractual negotiations," according
to the Der Spiegel report.
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