INDUSTRY, NOT government, will be responsible for allocating work-share on the Future Large Aircraft (FLA) military transport project. According to a senior programme manager, the move marks a keynote change in the way collaborative European programmes are run.

Aerospatiale military vice-president Philippe Picq says that the industrial partners in the programme, not the participating governments will be responsible for allocating work-share and deciding on final assembly.

On previous collaborative European programmes, work-share allocation was a government concern. The issue has caused friction and often led to unwieldy industrial structures.

Negotiations on work-share for the pre-development phase "...need to be completed by the end of the year", says Picq. Up to 300 aircraft, may be ordered by the existing partners and programme share, "will reflect the number of aircraft ordered".

Work-share allocation will be "...based on competence, cost, risk and experience", he says.

These rules will apply to the FLA's wing, for example, where Airbus wing builder British Aerospace is vying for leadership, but is coming under strong pressure from Daimler-Benz Aerospace.

Governments participating in the FLA will receive the results of studies into the programme by the end of May, clearing the way for a European Staff Requirement (ESR). Picq says, that the feasibility studies are "very near completion".

"We will give the complete results of our configuration analysis to the participating governments before the end of May," he says. This should lead to the specification of an ESR for the FLA and launch of pre-development at the beginning of 1996.

The industry group consists of teams from Aerospatiale, Alenia, British Aerospace, CASA and Daimler Benz Aerospace, with participation from Belgium's Flabel, Tusas in Turkey and Ogma in Portugal.

They have, says Picq, come up with answers to major questions such as price, development cost and production.

"We've made a lot of progress in defining the aircraft," he says. UK officials "...are participating in all of the FLA working groups", he adds, since they indicated their intention to rejoin the programme.

As now proposed, the pre-development phase will last until mid-1998, " which point industry will commit definitively to the price, development, performance and specification of the FLA", says Picq. This will be followed by a single phase for development and production.

First deliveries will be in 2003, and the UK, if it makes a commitment to the programme, will be the first customer, followed by France, then the other partners.

Picq says that Lockheed has a "big advantage" when selling the competing C-130J version of the Hercules. "They've built more than 2,000 C-130s, and the 'J' is 80% common, so low non-recurring costs are very low," he says.

"The test for Europe is to demonstrate that we can manage a military programme on a more efficient basis. There are a lot of examples which show that we can do better," he adds. Talks continue with Airbus Industrie on taking over management of the programme from Euroflag (which carried out the feasibility study). "We have made progress," Picq says, "it is a very important issue, which can and must be resolved."

Source: Flight International