Airbus Military has confirmed an “approximate” three-month delay to the start of final assembly of the A400M military transport, from the end of March to the end of June. It says there will be “no impact” however, on deliveries of the multi-national aircraft, due to begin in October 2009.
Major subassemblies are already being delivered to Spain for the first complete aircraft, which will be for static test. “We decided to delay the formal start of final assembly to ensure optimum subassembly quality”, says an Airbus Military spokesman.
The delay was agreed internally following a review of the programme undertaken as a result of the Airbus A380 delays. “We wanted to look at potential risk areas to make sure there weren’t any unexpected problems”, says the company.
The outcome was a decision to delay the formal start of final assembly and also the first flight of the Europrop International TP400-D6 powerplant aboard a converted C-130 Hercules. This will now take to the air in the second half of this year instead of the originally-envisaged first half.
The TP400-D6, which ran to full power for the first time in February 2006, is the western world’s most powerful turboprop and has been identified by Airbus Military as one of the most challenging elements of the A400M programme.