FRENCH INDECISION over the fate of the Future Large Aircraft (FLA) military transport could drag on until the fourth quarter of this year, according to sources close to the faltering multi-national collaborative project.

The FLA industry partners have patched together a single-phase-approach proposal covering fixed-price development and production, in an attempt to break the deadlock. French industry sources admit, however, that "-we're getting nothing at all out of the French Government".

There is increasing irritation among the other FLA partner nations, led by Germany, and within the Airbus consortium, which will manage the project, over France's inability to make its position on the programme clear. One source describes French statements as "a smokescreen". There has been speculation that, while France is unwilling to carry on with the project, it is trying to avoid being totally blamed for its collapse.

Under the latest proposals, industry would fund the development programme for the first two years, on the assurance of Government orders for the aircraft.

According to French industry sources, the Government may use a summit between President Chirac and Germany's Chancellor Kohl at the end of 1996 as the platform to announce the programme's fate.

With Airbus Industrie facing an intensive period of programme development, covering stretches of the A330 and A340 airliners, as well as the launch of the A3XX high-capacity widebody, sources indicate that "-the additional hassle of FLA haemorrhaging money over the next two years" would be far from welcome.

Source: Flight International