EADS Airbus Military hopes that by the Paris Air Show next month launch customers Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Spain, Turkey and the UK will complete a review of their commitment to the A400M military transport. Defense-capability marketing vice president Peter Scoffham on May 12 said that the company was doing “all we can to meet customer expectations.” He could not say when first flight would occur beyond being confident that the event would be “soon.” Scoffham proclaimed himself “100 percent” confident the A400M will meet performance guarantees, though Airbus is trying to lighten the aircraft, for which there is “no contracted maximum weight.” EADS Airbus earlier proposed major contract revisions, including a delay in the first deliveries until 2012, while conceding that it had “completely underestimated” the development task it had taken on under a 2003 fixed-price contract covering 180 aircraft.
A major factor in the flight-test delay has been the EuroProp International TP400-D6 engines. The powerplant manufacturer discovered in 2008 that it could not certify the TP400’s full-authority digital engine control (FADEC) system to European Aviation Safety Agency standards, approval that now is expected later this year.
Claiming that the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) “showed a lot of interest” in the A400M before opting for the Boeing C-17, Scoffham thinks the RAAF “will look again in 2018 to 2020” when it replaces its Lockheed C-130J Hercules fleet.