Ian Verchere

Failure to select a politically-correct power system for the Airbus Military Company's A400M transport aircraft was continuing to frustrate hopes for a big splash announcement at the Show. As one of European aerospace's longest running sagas - the paper plane was formerly known as the Future Large Aircraft (FLA) - AMC planners were still wrestling over two competing engine plans. "Discussions continue," says a spokesman for Rolls-Royce.


The first of these revolves around the efforts of Snecma Moteurs of France, MTU of Germany, FiatAvio of Italy and ITP of Spain to offer the M138 high-speed turboprop as its solution to the current impasse. Under the banner of a joint Munich-based company called TPI Turboprop International, the four-nation proposal covers the entire engine programme from development to in-service support and is described as "very commercial in its approach".

Under this arrangement, Snecma's M88 engine - which powers France's new Dassault Rafale fighter provides core technology with diplomatic allusions to contributions from other partners involved in the Eurofighter's Rolls-Royce EJ200 power system. Workshares are 33% for the French and German partners, 22% for the Italian and 12% for the Spanish. Turboprop International says "the M138 has been optimised for the A400M" and develops up to 10,400kW (14,000shp).A recent move by TPI to switch its engine design to a three-shaft design for its M138 powerplant, however, has resulted in an invitation to Britain's Rolls-Royce to join the consortium. This has triggered further infighting as the French and British aero engine companies wrestle over which core technology that of Rolls-Royce's heavily-modified BR700 or Snecma's M88 provides optimum propulsion and equable workshare.

Ministers from the partner nations, meanwhile, have agreed in principle to acquire an initial batch of 218 copies of the new European transporter. But failure to resolve the propulsion debate is now threatening to stymie contractual talks between AMC and the seven nations interested in buying the aircraft.

Source: Flight Daily News