Airbus Military has requested negotiations on a new contract for the delayed A400M transport aircraft, although it remains committed to completing the programme. Company president Domingo Ureña says it is currently costing around €100 million ($138 million) a month to sustain the troubled European airlifter.
A crucial meeting will be held in Seville, Spain on 22 June. "This gives us the opportunity to explain to the nations where we are in the programme. To understand what is the customer view and what is the industry view," says Ureña.
"We expect from this meeting the willingness of the seven ministers to tell us how we are going to work in the next steps. We have a delivery schedule with them and we are working out all questions that they have towards this."
The programme is nearing the end of a three-month moratorium period launched in late March in an attempt to resolve issues between the contractor and its customers. France and Germany have proposed extending this by a further six months, possibly allowing the first A400M to fly before the completion of contractual discussions.
Peter Scoffham, vice-president of defence capability marketing, says: "We have shown our willingness to continue with the project and to deliver an outstanding aircraft which is desperately needed in the marketplace."
Airbus Military is highlighting the A400M's future capabilities at the show, by showing a video on parent company EADS's stand of cargo being loaded inside a cross-section of its cargo hold.
Engine supplier Europrop International says it only has a further 300h of ground tests to conduct ahead of the certification of its TP400-D6 turboprop. Six examples have completed more than 3,000h of testing, while a seventh has logged 35 airborne hours on a C-130 testbed. A further 500-600h of engine testing will lead to operational readiness, says technical director Karsten Muehlenfeld.
"We are very satisfied with the product. We are in a position now to say that we're meeting the requirements."
The EPI consortium will deliver flight-standard full-authority digital engine control software for the A400M late this month for ground testing, and says negotiations continue with Europe's EASA certification agency over permission to fly the A400M in advance of it completing all auditing tasks. "I don't think that anyone has any doubts that the software can fly," says Muehlenfeld.