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Airbus military aircraft head quits over A400M delays

Airbus has acted to stem the instability affecting its A400M tactical transport programme, with the head of the company’s Military Aircraft division having resigned with immediate effect.

The departure of Domingo Ureña Raso – who had headed the programme for almost five years – was announced two days after Airbus chief executive Tom Enders promised that production and delivery delays on the A400M would have “managerial and organisational consequences”.

Airbus head of flight test operations Fernando Alonso will replace Ureña Raso from 1 March, with Airbus Defence & Space chief executive Bernhard Gerwert to oversee Military Aircraft activities in the interim period.

Under a wider restructuring also announced on 29 January, responsibility for the A400M programme’s industrial activities will be transferred to Pilar Albiac-Murillo at Airbus’s Operations unit. Existing programme head Rafael Tentor will continue to be responsible for development activities and customer deliveries, Airbus says.

Gerwert says he expects the action to “rapidly address existing shortfalls” in the company’s delivery of the tactical transport to eight nations.

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French air force

While he notes that delivered examples are exceeding specifications in the basic logistical transport role, Gerwert says: “For the integration of military capabilities and the industrial ramp-up in particular, we have not been performing at the level which had been expected of us.” The company will do its “utmost” to address concerns “so the customers receive the aircraft they need in the shortest time possible”, he adds.

Full details of the restructuring plan will be presented as Airbus delivers its financial results for 2014 in Munich on 27 February. However, its Defence & Space unit confirms that several scheduled new capabilities will be integrated with the “Atlas” in the second half of this year. These will include aerial delivery, a cargo handling system, defensive aids system equipment and hose and drogue refuelling pods.

“Additional military capabilities will be integrated up until 2018, as contractually agreed,” Airbus says, while describing discussions with its customer nations via Europe’s OCCAR procurement agency as “intense and constructive”.

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