At a dramatic new year press conference held beneath the second A400M in the final assembly building in Seville, Spain, the chief executive officers of EADS and Airbus declared that they would stop funding the program at the end of this month.
As partner governments head for another showdown with EADS over the climbing costs and lengthy delays associated with the Airbus Military A400M, there was good news for the program on December 11 when the first aircraft took to the air.
The first Airbus Military A400M military airlifter (MSN 1) made its first flight today, taking off at 10:15 a.m. local time (0915 UTC) from Seville, Spain, for a three-hour, 47-minute flight, according to EADS. The six-person crew, led by Edward Strongman, Airbus chief test pilot, military, said the aircraft and its four Europrop International TP400D turboprop engines performed as expected.
There was good news and bad news for Europe’s troubled airlifter last week. Airbus Military said the first A400M is now in the hands of the flight-test team and on course for a first flight by the end of the year. And the program gained a strong endorsement from the UK Royal Air Force commander. But South Africa canceled its order for eight aircraft and claimed a refund of $391 million already handed over.
Airbus Military is increasingly confident about the technical progress of the A400M airlifter, but has refused to comment on the difficult, ongoing negotiations with the European launch nations over cost and timescale.
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.
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.
European Aerospace and Defense Systems (EADS) is the world’s second-largest aerospace and defense company (after Boeing).
With components arriving from Spain and Belgium, Fairchild Dornier has begun component integration of its first 728JET 70- to 85-passenger regional jet at its Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany facility.
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.