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A400M delays prompt Europrop management reshuffle

Rolls-Royce and Snecma have assumed increased responsibility for delivering the Airbus Military A400M transport's TP400-D6 turboprop engine, after ongoing delays forced a top-level management reshuffle at the Europrop International consortium.

The consortium's managing director José Massol left the company with immediate effect on 1 October after holding the post for two years, and was replaced by Nick Durham, formerly director of services and helicopters at R-R's Defence Aerospace division. Snecma chief executive Phillippe Petitcolin has meanwhile been appointed a non-executive chairman to the collaborative venture, which also incorporates Spain's ITP and Germany's MTU Aero Engines.

"These appointments reflect the increased role that Rolls-Royce and Snecma are taking to strengthen the management of the programme," says Europrop. "Together, we will maintain and reinforce our current efforts to provide to Airbus Military the new generation TP400-D6 engines answering the challenging A400M," says Petitcolin. The reorganisation decision was supported by all four Europrop shareholders, the company says.

© Airbus Military

Airbus Military's flight-test schedule for the A400M has already been pushed back by several months due to factors including a four-month delay to final-assembly activities and the late availability of test engines. Main stakeholder EADS expects the aircraft to make its flight debut around mid-2008, but recently revealed that a fresh internal audit of the project will report shortly whether an additional schedule slip could be encountered.

A TP400 test engine had been due to fly in the UK earlier in 2007 on a Lockheed Martin C-130 testbed, but Europrop now expects this milestone to occur late this year, after delivering the power plant to Marshall Aerospace later this month. Development of the 11,000shp (8,200kW) engine has been delayed by factors including oil system contamination, and by the need to redesign some components after encountering higher than expected loads during bench testing.

Final assembly of the A400M started at EADS Casa's Seville plant in Spain in late August. Airbus Military still hopes to deliver its first of 192 production aircraft now under contract to launch user the French air force in late 2009.

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