Airbus owner EADS has again reaffirmed its full commitment to deliver on its A400M Military Transport Aircraft obligations.
In a statement posted on its website, the pan European aviation, space and defence company says it is “more than ever determined to deliver on this programme” which it describes as “one of the most ambitious European defence programmes” to date “designed to produce an aircraft of exceptional performance”.
It is the second such statement in a month and comes after a statement in early in January that the programme was to be restructured.
Airbus Chief Executive Tom Enders last month said the current organisational and contractual structure of the A400M Loadmaster was a “recipe for disaster”.
Speaking to journalists at the presentation of Airbus` 2008 financial results, Enders added that “We want to continue the programme, but we want to continue it in a way that ensures success for the customers and success for the industry.
“With the current contractual and organisational set-up we will not get there; this is a recipe for disaster. It would be irresponsible to continue on the current track, so our task is not to put the programme back on track but to put it on a new, solid and realistic footing in terms of the schedule, the organisation and financials,” Enders said.
“I am absolutely convinced that we cannot and should not continue the programme under the current circumstances.”
Enders said EADS and Airbus would approach the European defence acquisition authority OCCAR to renegotiate the contract.
Airbus Chief Operating Officer Fabrice Bregier this week said the contract changes it seeks in the wake of delays to the A400M military aircraft programme will not cost European taxpayers extra money. He said nothing about those of South Africa and Malaysia, two countries that also intend purchasing the plane.
In its latest media release EADS reiterates that the state-of-the-art technologies chosen for Loadmaster “will make the A400M an aircraft of the future, designed to be operational for many decades. This aircraft features second-to-none capabilities compared to any currently existing strategic and tactical military transport aircraft”.
Concerning the issue of cost over-runs, EADS said that “in contrary to statements made in media reports, EADS confirms that no indication can be given today beyond the provision of €1.7 billion already taken, as long as a binding industrial plan, which includes the availability of systems, is not established and not before OCCAR’s position on EADS` proposals is known”.
The release adds that EADS made a proposal to OCCAR at the end of last year to enter discussions to redefine certain technical and contractual specifications of the programme.
“According to the announcement of January 9, EADS confirms that the delay between the first flight and the first delivery of the A400M … will be three years.
“The Group is working with the engine consortium to define the date for this first flight. The group is simultaneously studying possibilities to facilitate the production ramp-up.
“At the same time, EADS is reorganising the structure of the programme. Following EADS CEO Louis Gallois’ proposal, the EADS Board of Directors had decided in December 2008 to integrate the A400M programme under the sole lead of Airbus thus simplifying and clarifying its lines of responsibility.”
The statement did not address another concern highlighted in specialist media reports, namely that the aircraft is 12 metric tons (mt) overweight and likely to fall 3mt short of its 37mt designed-for lift capability.