Airbus Military will receive the first four flight test engines for the delayed A400M medium-lift transport by the end of the year, ending speculation that the TP400 engine program has run into serious difficulties.
Europrop International (EPI), the four-nation consortium developing the 11,000-shp TP400, will also deliver the first flight test TP400 to Marshall Aerospace at the end of this week following delays caused by oil contamination discovered during ground tests.
A source within MTU, which partners with Rolls-Royce, Snecma and ITP in developing the TP400, said the engine received approval over the weekend for flight testing aboard a converted C-130 Hercules, beginning in February. He disputes claims that EPI is entirely responsible for the six-month A400M delay. “Some of the delays were Airbus Military’s responsibility. It’s time the sniping stopped and we got on with the program,” he said.
Earlier, Airbus Military told AIN (issue 1, page 2) that it was unable to discuss availability of the A400M with potential Middle East customers at the Dubai Airshow “because we don’t know ourselves.” The first flight of the A400M will now take place in mid-2008, leading to the planned delivery of the first of 192 aircraft to nine customers, beginning in 2010.
The oil contamination apparently happened due to excessive wear on a roller bearing cage within the gearbox responsible for transmitting power to the eight-bladed, 17.5-foot-diameter composite propeller. “We had to make some simple modifications to the cage then re-assemble the engine and re-run the tests. We’re totally confident the engine will perform as planned during the test program,” said the MTU source.