Engine Problem Solved, but A400M Deliveries Delayed

 - September 21, 2012, 11:35 AM
German Chancellor Angela Merkel toured the A400M airlifter on display at the Berlin Air Show last week. (Photo: Airbus Military)

Airbus Military says it hopes to resume, in November, the remaining 140 hours of function and reliability flight-testing that is required before its A400M airlifter can be granted a full type certificate. The flights with MSN6, the first production-representative aircraft, were suspended in July because of the repeated detection of metallic chips in the oil system of one of the TP400 engines. Europrop International (EPI) has traced the problem to a cracked cover plate within the propeller gearbox. It is being redesigned, but all the series engines produced so far must be modified.

The interruption delays delivery of the first production aircraft to the French Air Force until the second quarter of next year. Airbus Military says it still plans to deliver four A400Ms next year–three to France and one to Turkey. The 10 deliveries scheduled for 2014, including the first to Germany and the UK, remain on schedule. No serious financial consequence resulted from the new delay, Airbus Military chief executive officer Domingo Urena-Raso told AIN at the ILA Berlin airshow last week. He declined to comment on the status of legal claims lodged by Airbus Military against Europrop, and vice versa, which were launched two years ago when problems with the big turboprop seriously affected the A400M delivery schedule and therefore the cash flow and profitability of Airbus.

The four other A400M prototypes continue to fly daily on other development tasks, and the fleet has now amassed more than 3,700 hours on nearly 1,250 flights. “We are achieving fantastic dispatch reliability,” Urena-Raso told journalists at the show. “The launch customers are beginning to realize the new capabilities that the A400M offers.” The static display of the airlifter at Berlin emphasized its ability to carry a variety of emergency response equipment to aid in humanitarian relief.