Efforts to save Airbus A400M project

Efforts continue to try and save the Airbus 400M project with today’s deadline for an agreement being extended.

The Airbus 400M, assembled in Sevilla and providing 10,000 jobs throughout Europe, has overrun its initial budget by around €5,300 million.

The European aircraft manufacturer wants the seven European countries supporting the project – Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Spain, Turkey and the UK – to pay more for the aircraft to cover the extra costs incurred as a result of weight and engine problems.

The seven countries have ordered 180 of the aircraft between them. The planes were actually sold in advance by the plane maker, some six years ago, at a fixed price which, in retrospect, was too low and a definite error. Discussions will now take place to see if the participating countries will pay more for the planes, with the plane maker threatening to cancel the project if a solution is not found.

However, there are those who believe that because the project is at such an advanced stage that its cancellation is highly unlikely on business grounds and that the attitude of the plane maker is more a case of posturing.

According to Airbus, the A400M is:

  • Designed for operations from unprepared, short runways and for rapid loading and unloading without specialised ground support equipment
  • Drops larger and heavier loads and more paratroopers from both high and low altitudes than other airlifters
  • Has twice the payload capacity of the Hercules aircraft it replaces
  • Can hold two Super Lynx or two Apache helicopters as cargo
  • First large military aircraft with extensive use of composite materials for wings
  • Can refuel other aircraft, as well as take on fuel itself, during filght
  • With a 20 tonne payload, has a range of 3970 miles

In the meantime, Airbus has for the seventh year running delivered more aircraft to customers than has its main rival, Boeing, with 498 planes being delivered in 2009, an increase of 15 on 2008.

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