Following a series of delays in the development of the A400M's Europrop International TP400 engine and a four-month slip before the start of final assembly activities, lead stakeholder EADS has at last confirmed that Airbus Military will be late in delivering the new transport.

With the TP400 not due to fly until late this year, using a modified Lockheed Martin C-130 testbed, EADS has promised that the first A400M will take to the air in "summer 2008", following a schedule revision made earlier this year.

But "slow progress" with the TP400, combined with additional systems development difficulties and the need to conduct separate engine testing has led the company to confirm that France will suffer a six-month delay to the receipt of its first A400M, with this now to be handed over in early 2010, and the type to achieve initial operating capability the following year.

The slip will also affect "other customer nations", EADS says, while cautioning that there is "a risk of a further slippage of up to half a year". Turkey is the second nation scheduled to take delivery of the European type.

Industry sources suggest the new delivery schedule will require further negotiation between Airbus Military, EADS and Europe's OCCAR procurement agency, as it will mean the failure to meet a key contractual milestone, inferring financial penalties. More details are expected to emerge from EADS over the coming months.


Source: Flight International