A400M problem still at analysis stage – EPI president


The cause of a gearbox problem that prevented Europe’s Airbus A400M troop carrier from taking part in flights at the Paris Air Show is still unknown, Europrop International’s (EPI) president said.

A senior official in the programme had told Reuters on Tuesday the problem was probably caused by a manufacturing issue linked to materials rather than a design one.
“It is in the analysis stage, we don’t know the real cause yet,” EPI President Simon Henley told reporters yesterday at the Paris Air Show. EPI is the four-company group responsible for developing and building the A400M’s TP400-D6 engine.
“It’s not a safety issue and it will not affect the global programme,” he said, adding that there was an in-flight engine shutdown when the problem emerged earlier this month.

Airbus and its engine makers launched an investigation after the gearbox broke down just days before the transporter was due to make its debut Paris appearance, forcing the plane manufacturer to cancel display flights.
“We decided that non-essential flights such as demonstrations needed to stop while we looked into the issue,” said Henley.

The gearbox is made by Fiat’s Avio for the engine consortium led by Rolls-Royce and Safran. It has been sent to Rolls-Royce in the UK for analysis.

Teething problems in the West’s largest-ever turbo-prop engines severely delayed the A400M and contributed to billions of euros in cost overruns.

The A400M was designed to give extra military airlift capability to seven European nations — Britain, Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Spain and Turkey.

The first aircraft is expected to be delivered in 2013.