“Never Again,” Says Airbus A400M Chief
The Airbus A400M military airlifter will be ceremonially rolled out on June 26, but the plan to make a first flight by “the end of the summer” seems overly optimistic, unless rapid progress can be made with the TP400 engine testbed, which has not yet flown. About 50 hours are scheduled for this modified C-130, carrying one of the four big turboprops that will power the A400M. During a media tour of the new A400M assembly line recently, Airbus Military CEO Carlos Suarez conceded, “It was not wise” to begin development of the airframe and engines in parallel. Nor was it wise to sign a fixed-price development and production contract with the eight European launch nations, he added. Airbus would not make the same mistake again, he declared. EADS-Airbus has made a €1.4 billion provision for cost overruns, but Suarez hinted that the company is trying to renegotiate the terms of the contract.