Airbus to delay A400M Loadmaster delivery

Air Forces around the world – including that of South Africa – will have to wait a while longer for their Airbus Military A400M Loadmaster medium transports. A joint press release by Airbus Military and its parent EADS suggest a delay of at least three years.
The release says the two companies are proposing “a new programme approach for the A400M”. The pitch is being made to launch customers through OCCAR, the European organisation for joint armament cooperation “with the aim to find a way forward for this programme”.

The pan-European plane maker and the European defence giant also “want to discuss the programme schedule along with changes to other areas of the contract including in particular certain technical characteristics…”

Airbus Military is also suggesting that “series production only [commence] once adequate maturity is reached, based on flight test results. With this proposed new approach, the first delivery of the A400M would then occur around three years after first flight.”
Regarding the aircraft`s massive Europrop International (EPI) TP400-D6 powerplant that made its first flight on a testbed aircraft on 17 December, Airbus Military says it “is still working with the engine consortium to firm up a date for the first flight”.

The two companies say they will only be able to “reliably determine all financial implications once a committed industrial plan, including the availability of systems, is fully stabilised and once OCCAR’s position on the proposal is known.”

They add the “proposed new approach will not compromise the ultimate qualities and the exceptional characteristics of the airplane…”

Reuters and Flight Global have reported that the Loadmaster is not expected to fly before the second half of the year.

The SAAF was asked to comment on this report but had not done so by the time of publication. Air Force chief Lt Gen Carlo Gagiano has described the Airbus programme as very important for the flying service and SA military.