Airbus said on Friday that it was delaying by at least three months the first delivery of the A400M heavy-lifter, blaming engine problems.
Airbus had previously scuttled a planned flying display by the A400M at July's Farnborough Airshow in a blow to the project, which has already been hurt by delays and cost overruns.
At the time Airbus, best-known for its passenger jets, had said civil certification for the plane would be pushed back to the end of August or early September but that it still expected to deliver it to France, its first customer, by early 2013.
But Airbus said in a statement on Friday that certification for the plane would now take place in the first quarter of next year, with delivery to the French Air Force in the second quarter.
The aircraft's huge turboprop engines have been a persistent problem for the programme, which is designed to add airlift capacity for seven European NATO nations.
The latest problem was caused by "the detection of metallic chips in the oil system of one of the engines," Airbus said, adding that the engine maker Europrop International had made a new design available, which was being tested.
Gravity always wins!