EADS Airbus has proposed major revisions to its contract with seven European nations for the A400M airlifter, including a delay in the first deliveries until 2012. The company still has no idea when the first flight might take place, although the C-130 testbed for the A400M’s huge TP400 turboprop engines did finally get off the ground last month.
The Europrop TP400 engine that has been fitted to a C-130 testbed at Cambridge, UK, by Marshall Aerospace ran at full power for the first time last week. But unanticipated problems integrating the 11,000-shp powerplant on the C-130 have further delayed the A400M program.
Further delay to the Airbus A400M military transport now seems inevitable. “There’s an obvious risk of slippage,” Carlos Suarez, head of EADS Military Transport Aircraft (MTA), said here at Farnborough. The first A400M ceremonially rolled out from the brand-new final assembly line building at Seville, Spain, on June 26.
Eaton Corporation has signed two new multi-million dollar contracts to produce aircraft hydraulic and fuel systems.
Bombardier selected the Irvine, California-based company to supply the hydraulic system for the new Learjet 85 model, and Sikorsky selected Eaton to supply the hydraulic and fuel systems and cockpit components (control panels and dimming controllers) for the new CH-53K heavy-lift U.S. Marine Corps helicopter.
Powering the A400M was always going to be a challenge, requiring the development of the Western world’s biggest turboprop, the 11,000-shp TP400-D6, and integrating a host of highly complex systems and associated software. “The complexity of the integration task on the TP400 has been bigger than it was for the Airbus A380,” said Nick Durham, president of Europrop International (EPI).
Production of the Lockheed Martin C-130J Hercules has been assured for many years to come, thanks to the U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command (SOC). The unit has ordered a new version, designated HC/MC-130J, to replace its existing fleet of HC-130s and MC-130s used for combat search and rescue and special forces operations. Last week, Lockheed Martin received a contract for the first six aircraft, with another eight to follow soon.
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.
The first Airbus A400M airlifter is set to be rolled out from the final assembly line at Seville, Spain, in June, but it won’t make its first flight until at least September. The program is now running more than six months late due to developmental delays with the large TP400 turboprop engines. The first flight of a TP400 on a C-130 testbed at Marshall Aerospace’s Cambridge, UK airfield has been delayed again until next month.
UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown and French President Nicholas Sarkozy reached some significant–though little noticed–defense arrangements when they met in London late last month. The two countries agreed to seek a single joint contract for the in-service support of the Airbus A400M airlifters that both have ordered. If achieved, this will be the first such arrangement ever concluded.
The Airbus A400M is not just a military airlifter, according to Peter Scoffham, vice president of customer marketing for Airbus Military, speaking at the 2007 Military Airlift in London. It is also well-suited to the transport of humanitarian aid, which, he said, is one reason Malaysia has chosen the aircraft for its fleet.