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Airbus to slash A400M assembly rate

Airbus is to dramatically slow its final assembly rate for the A400M tactical transport from a high of 19 achieved in 2017 to only eight per year from 2020, the company confirms.

"Production will be adjusted to eight units per year as of 2020, following production of 15 A400Ms in 2018 and 11 units in 2019," Airbus says. "This adjustment is based on discussions with the launch customer nations," it says, adding that its Defence & Space unit will "pursue export opportunities beyond this level".

Airbus and its seven European customers for the Atlas transport signed a declaration of intent in early February, confirming their agreement to review a combined 170-unit order. This followed a lengthy effort by the manufacturer to ease what it described as the "huge financial burden" it was facing – a consequence of financial penalties linked to programme delays and the late introduction of promised tactical capabilities.

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Airbus Defence & Space

Under its revised production schedule announced on 7 March, Airbus Defence & Space should end 2019 having delivered approximately 80 aircraft from the total of 174 A400Ms currently ordered, also including lone export buyer Malaysia. At the reduced rate of eight per annum, it should take a further 12 years for it to complete the remaining aircraft, extending work into the early 2030s.

The A400M rate announcement was made in conjunction with a move by Airbus's commercial arm to also slow its A380 output to six superjumbos per year from 2020. The combined measures will affect up to 3,700 jobs in France, Germany, Spain and the UK, the manufacturer says.

"Airbus has to ensure the best possible production flow for its products," the company says. "These rate adjustment decisions provide clear visibility for customers, the supply chain and employees over the coming years."

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