Airbus is heralding mixed fortunes for its troubled A400M military transport programme, with expected deliveries in 2015 of 16 units – double 2014’s total – coming on the back of a €551 million ($620 million) fourth-quarter charge for delays and action needed­ to ramp-up production.

Highlights of the 2015 delivery campaign should include five aircraft for the UK Royal Air Force, which currently has two – including one delivered in 2014. But original expectations for the total transfer of more than 20 units are clearly out of reach.

A400M RAF - Crown Copyright

Crown Copyright

Speaking in Munich to detail an overall strong group financial and operational performance for 2014, Airbus chief executive Tom Enders blamed the A400M’s woes on incomplete sub-assemblies arriving at the Seville final assembly line. Fuselages from Bremen are a particular problem, he says, but wings from Filton and inputs from other plants are also arriving in Seville needing further work.

This “travelled work” means personnel from the sub-facilities have to work temporarily in Seville, which is “very inefficient”.

However, says Enders, the change of programme management made last month is encouraging. Fernando Alonso, who replaced Domingo Ureña-Raso as head of military aircraft within the Airbus Defence & Space division, is "a great manager coming from the commercial side", he says, while new head of operations Pilar Albiac-Murillo comes from the automotive industry and knows how to fix a final assembly operation.

Of Airbus Defence & Space head Bernhard Gerwert, Enders adds:"I trust that he has taken the right choices."

Further details of the financial implications of the A400M programme remediation requirements are expected to be set out in the coming weeks.

Source: Flight International