A400M Negotiations Continue; German Cuts Discussed

 - May 21, 2010, 8:07 AM
Germany is negotiating to reduce the number of A400M airlifters that it will receive from Airbus Military. Like the UK, it wants to take a cut in fleet size as its contribution to the €2 billion of additional A400M funding that was agreed in principle by the seven European customer nations last March. But that agreement makes provision for a cut of only 10 aircraft from the production plan, according to Airbus Military chief Domingo Urena-Raso. The nations have ordered 180 aircraft, of which Germany is supposed to take 60. The UK wants to cut two or three aircraft from its commitment of 25. The nations have additionally agreed to provide Airbus Military with €1.5 billion in the form of a loan that will be repayable as a levy on future export sales. Urena-Raso is optimistic about the latter. He told journalists at the company's headquarters in Madrid that the A400M “looks likely to be the state-of-the-art airlifter for many decades to come.” Airbus Military hopes to sign the A400M contract amendments with the nations “before the summer holidays,” he added.

Meanwhile, Airbus Military and EuroProp International (EPI) have agreed to drop legal claims against each other over the problematic development of the airlifter's TP400 turboprops. “We are applying common sense to constructively solve the problems between us–divorce is not allowed,” Urena-Raso said. But he admitted that relations between Airbus Military and Thales–the developer of the A400M's flight management system–are “a real concern,” although technical issues were being solved.

The first two A400Ms have now logged a total of 165 block hours on 44 test sorties. Chief test pilot Ed Strongman reported good progress across the flight envelope. The delayed propeller stress survey flights are slated to be completed this week. The first A400M (MSN1) will make its public debut at the ILA Berlin air show next month, including a flying display. The aircraft will also be shown at the RIAT and Farnborough airshows in the UK in July.