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Airbus Military gets ready in time for FLA decision day

Julian Moxon/PARIS

Formation of the Airbus Military Company (AMC) is imminent as the 29 January deadline nears for submission of a definitive bid to the seven partner governments involved in the programme. AMC is charged with developing and marketing the European Future Large Aircraft (FLA) airlifter.

The offer, containing a comprehensive presentation of the FLA, including initial and operating costs, will include the proposed workshares of the partners, along with their shareholding in AMC.

The new company will be a subsidiary of majority shareholder Airbus Industrie, the partners taking the remaining shares roughly in line with their planned procurement share. Germany has said it needs 75 FLA type aircraft, the UK45, Italy 44, Spain 36, Turkey 26 and Belgium12. According to AMC, the workshare would see the Airbus partners within the new company retaining their traditional "centres of excellence" in the Airbus civil aircraft group, so that British Aerospace, for example, would lead development of the wing, Aerospatiale taking responsibility for the cockpit and flight control system, Germany the main fuselage and Spain the empennage.

The remainder of the work would then be contracted to the other partners as required to bring the workshare up to the agreed proportions.

The situation is complicated by a further two requests for proposals (RFPs), each involving some of the AMC partners. Belgium, France, Spain and the UK have called for rival RFPs from Boeing and Lockheed Martin, respectively, for their C-17 and C-130J transports, while France, Germany, Spain and Italy have requested a further RFP from Antonov, for its An-70. Airbus will submit virtually the same FLA offer in both cases.

"We are the only one which meets exactly the European Staff Requirement specifications," says AMC. "The FLA is the right size, has the most advanced technology and will offer by far the lowest operating costs."

Industry sources point out, however, that the national procurement figures upon which the FLA workshares are based are subject to national budget constraints and are almost certain to change. One says, for example, that Italy "-has absolutely no intention of taking 44 aircraft. They are thinking more in terms of around half that figure".

The governments are expected to take around a year to negotiate final workshares, specifications and numbers of aircraft and to evaluate the different proposals.

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