EADS has asked Airbus Military A400M customer nations to accept a further two-year delay to deliveries of the airlifter as it battles to get the troubled programme back on track.
The French air force had originally been due to achieve an initial operational capability with the A400M in early 2010 - later slipped to mid-2010 - but EADS is now suggesting that deliveries take place "around three years after first flight", pushing the in-service date to at least mid-2012. The manufacturer had previously said that outstanding issues with the aircraft's propulsion system meant that the A400M was unlikely to take to the air before the second half of 2009, "although it is still working with the engine consortium to firm up a date for the first flight".
It adds: "Airbus Military and EADS want to discuss the programme schedule along with changes to other areas of the contract including in particular certain technical characteristics of this first-class military aircraft.
"Airbus Military suggests to resume series production only once adequate maturity is reached, based on flight test results. With this proposed new approach, the first delivery of the A400M would then occur around three years after first flight."
EADS says the full impact of the new industrial plan on its own financial results will only be known once the programme is "fully stabilised" and European procurement agency OCCAR has made its position on the proposal known.