Julian Moxon/TOULOUSE


CASA of Spain has been nominated to carry out final assembly of the seven-nation A400M transporter if Airbus Military Company (AMC) secures an order from European governments to develop and build the aircraft.

The assembly decision is part of a series of workshare agreements surrounding the A400M, formerly the Future Large Aircraft.

Only an imminent decision over the powerplant remains to complete the allocation of significant work packages.

Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Turkey and the UK are involved in the A400M, although Belgium, France, Spain and the UK have also issued separate requests for proposals for competing bids from Lockheed Martin, offering the C-130J, and Boeing, with the C-17. A Westernised version of the Antonov An-70, called the An-7X, is also in the running.

The A400M bid is based on the seven partners committing to buy 288 aircraft, although AMC commercial director Richard Thomson says: "We don't know at the moment what the nations are really thinking in terms of numbers."

Thomson says the A400M programme has "taken off at a gallop" now that the proposal has been submitted to the seven nations. "We're starting the process of proposal clarification this week. We're confident the nations will be in a position to decide what they want by the end of the year."

Formal commitment to the programme is due early in 2000, leading to a launch a few months later.

The allocation of workshares follows the Airbus Industrie pattern of "centres of excellence", while bringing into the fold non-Airbus partners Belgium, Italy and Turkey, all of which produce components for civil Airbus aircraft.

Aerospatiale is responsible for the nose section, cockpit, fly-by-wire flight control system and wing centre section. British Aerospace will build the wings, with DaimlerChrysler Aerospace (Dasa). Belgium's Flabel is also in the wing production team.

Dasa is also responsible for the fin, centre fuselage and, with Turkish Aerospace Industry (TAI), the forward centre fuselage. Italy's Alenia is taking charge of the aft fuselage, ramp door (with TAI) and cargo handling system and, with BAe and Flabel, the wing and moving surfaces.

CASA, which builds theCN-235, C-295 and C-212 transports, has been selected to carry out final assembly in Seville. It would also be responsible for the horizontal stabiliser and, with Aerospatiale, integration of the powerplants.

The engine competition is between BMW Rolls-Royce, proposing a turboshaft based on the BR710 turbofan; Snecma, offering the M138 turboshaft; and Pratt & Whitney Canada with the PW150 Twin Pack.

Source: Flight International