Paris Air Show

Paris 2011: Engine Gearbox Glitch Dampens the Airbus A400M’s Le Bourget Debut

 - June 19, 2011, 10:00 PM

An engine gearbox anomaly picked up during flight testing of an Airbus A400M has prompted Airbus Military to withdraw its new military transport aircraft from the daily flying program here at the Paris Air Show.

“The A400M had a small incident with the gearbox of one aircraft,” said Airbus Military CEO Domingo Ureña. “We are waiting for the full analysis before restarting flight tests.”

This is a further setback to the A400M program, following an issue with cracks in its huge (17-foot diameter) counter-rotating propellers, but not serious enough to ground the aircraft. Therefore, one of the four prototypes was permitted to fly to Le Bourget and to take part in the show’s opening fly-past with the Patrouille de France. Afterward, it will be placed back in the static park for the show week.

The four flying A400Ms have completed more than 1,400 hours of flight testing in some 450 flights, and a fifth aircraft is being prepared for its first flight. Certification of the A400M to civil standards is planned by the end of the year and first delivery–which will be to the French air force–around the end of 2012.

Airbus Military has 170 firm orders for the A400M from the seven partner nations (Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Spain, Turkey and the UK) and four from Malaysia, for a total of 174. The model is anticipated to be named “Atlas” sometime this summer.