PARIS: Engine problems prevent A400M flying at show

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Engine gearbox problems mean the Airbus Military A400M will not take part in the flying display during its Paris debut. Instead, the European military transport - billed as one of the stars of the show - will appear in a brief fly-past and remain on static display.

Confirming the news at an EADS media seminar on Saturday, Domingo Urena, chief executive of Airbus Military, said the issue with the gearbox of the Europrop International TP400-D6 was not serious but the company did not want to be distracted from the four-aircraft flight-test programme taking place in Seville and Toulouse.

"We have problems with the gearbox, but the test aircraft keep flying. We have very demanding flight-test requirements at the moment," said Urena.

a400m - airbus military
 © Airbus Military

The A400M made its maiden air show flying display at the ILA air show in Berlin last June, followed by a stint at Farnborough. This was to have been the type's first flying appearance at Paris ahead of its delivery to the French air force by March 2013.

Seville-based Airbus Military predicts a market over the next 30 years for 800 "heavy airlifters" - a segment in which it competes with Boeing's C-17 and the Lockheed Martin C-130J. With 174 orders, the European company claims a current 34% market share.

One of Airbus Military's key objectives is to grow A400M exports beyond its sole overseas customer, Malaysia. South Africa - which cancelled its commitment for eight A400Ms in 2009, but whose manufacturers Aerosud and Denel are suppliers to the programme - remains a potential buyer, said Urena. "We continue to work with them and have open dialogue with the government about how we can maybe come back, even if it is for fewer aircraft."

He said he expected Germany and the UK - which axed seven and three aircraft respectively from their original A400M orders in an agreement that followed the programme's delay and price increase - to sacrifice workshare as part of any offset package offered to a new customer.