EADS has broken its silence over the progress made during protracted negotiations with the seven European launch customers for its Airbus Military A400M transport, after what it describes as "unsolicited press reports" about the project.

In a statement released on 17 February, the company says: "EADS confirms that it has received a letter from the customer nations of the A400M programme, summarising the status of the negotiations and proposing a number of changes to the initial contract."

The document does not represent a draft proposal for a new contract, it continues, and adds that "the company wishes to get further clarification on several items, and certain points are left open for later discussion".

Its statement describes the letter as representing "an important step towards convergence", but it fails to provide any specifics on possible areas of compromise between the manufacturer and its customers in brokering a new contract for the 180-aircraft deal.

 A400m-InFlight 13
© Airbus Military
EADS: 'too early to draw financial conclusions' on A400M delay

Originally worth a fixed €20 billion ($27 billion) for development and production activities, the A400M deal has been at risk since late last year, despite the type having made its delayed first flight on 11 December. Unconfirmed reports have suggested that a solution could hinge on the provision of state loans and changes to aircraft specifications.

EADS plans to make a new provision against the troubled project in its 2009 financial results, but says that for now "it is too early to draw financial conclusions", or "determine the level of the A400M provision it will need to charge".

The company had threatened to halt work on the A400M at the end of last year, and again on 31 January, but is continuing to prepare aircraft MSN001 for its eighth test flight, and to ready second test example MSN002 for its debut sortie.

Source: Flight International