Airbus chief executive Tom Enders has promised “management and organisational consequences” as a result of the production and delivery problems that are affecting the company’s A400M tactical transport programme.

“We have problems – I admit that,” Enders said while addressing an Airbus Group reception in London on 27 January. “We have additional delays and I very much regret that we are unable to meet the commitments made to our customers several years ago.

“We are taking corrective action as fast as we can,” he says, adding that the issue will have “management and organisational consequences”.

Airbus is unable to achieve the terms required for the UK Royal Air Force to declare initial operational capability with the A400M Atlas in March as scheduled. The milestone will be achieved with the availability of seven aircraft and trained crews, but so far just one has been transferred to the service’s Brize Norton base in Oxfordshire. A second is having its defensive aids system equipment installed in Spain, having been accepted in late 2014.

A400M RAF - Crown Copyright

Crown Copyright

“I hope that in 2015 this will grow to seven aircraft at least,” Enders says, adding: “we will do what we can to get out of this situation.” The RAF will eventually have a 22-strong fleet of the type, with the last example scheduled for delivery during 2018.

Airbus failed to achieve its planned delivery totals for the A400M in 2013 and 2014, with a combined 11 having been handed over to customers by the end of last year – three fewer than initially scheduled. The company had expected to increase the rate of work on its San Pablo final assembly line in Seville to deliver 23 of the aircraft in 2015, but early this year said that this is now being reviewed.

Production and acceptance issues are believed to be linked to delays with introducing planned additional operating capabilities to the A400M.

Details of a recovery plan and expected delivery schedule for this year – which must be agreed by the programme’s seven launch nations via Europe’s OCCAR procurement agency – could emerge before Airbus presents its annual results in Munich on 27 February.

Source: Flight International