Airbus Military Company (AMC) has re-opened the competition to power the A400M transport because it is not satisfied with the proposal from the Aero Propulsion Alliance (APA) consortium.

AMC says: "There appear to be shortcomings in the performance, so we haven't signed a contract."

It is understood that weight and specific fuel consumption are too high.

The engine competition has been re-opened "to all bidders", says AMC. Other bids are unlikely because APA's TP400 is the only 7,450-9,760kW (10,000-13,000shp) turboprop available. The TP400 is a three-shaft turboprop based on the core of the Snecma M88 fighter engine.

The competition will have to be concluded rapidly if the programme is not to be further delayed should Germany resolve its funding difficulties by the next deadline, 31 March.

APA - which comprises FiatAvio, ITP, MTU, Rolls-Royce, Snecma and Techspace Aero - was selected in late 2000 to develop the TP400 for the four-engined A400M. FiatAvio's position is questionable following Italy's withdrawal from the A400M programme, but the company was due to contribute the main gearbox, a key component of the turboprop.

APA was a result of political pressure uniting separate bids from R-R, based on the BR700, and the Snecma/MTU-led Turboprop International, which offered an engine based on the M88 core.

Germany is expected to clear its funding hurdle by the next deadline. It will continue to promise additional funding in the next defence budget and is likely to issue a promise to indemnify the other partners if the money is not forthcoming.

Source: Flight International