Airbus’ A400M Aerial Transport: Delays, Development, and Deployment
November 17/17: Issues/Fixes Approval for a permanent propeller gearbox (PGB) fix onboard Airbus’ A400M Atlas transport aircraft will slide into next year, according to propulsion system supplier Europrop International (EPI). EPI had hoped to secure European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) certification for a “Pack 2” series of modifications to the TP400-D6 engine’s Avio Aero-supplied PGB in the third quarter of this year. These modifications intended to reduce vibration and “reinforce endurance and reliability,” however, as EPI want to supply a fully mature PGB solution, certification will not take place until 2018. In the meantime, an EASA certified “truncated plug solution” has been retrofitted to all in-service A400Ms and installed with new engines since the start of this year. EPI said this solution has given “strong relief to the operators” by removing the need to conduct on-wing inspections of the gearbox after every 20 flying hours.
Airbus’ A400M is a EUR 20+ billion program that aims to repeat Airbus’ civilian successes in the full size military transport market. A series of smart design decisions were made around capacity (35-37 tonnes/ 38-40 US tons, large enough for survivable armored vehicles), extensive use of modern materials, multi-role capability as a refueling tanker, and a multinational industrial program; all of which leave the aircraft well positioned to take overall market share from Lockheed Martin’s C-130 Hercules. If the USA’s C-17 is allowed to go out of production, the A400M would also have a strong position in the strategic transport market, with only Russian AN-70, IL-76 and AN-124 aircraft as competition.
Airbus’ biggest program issue, by far, has been funding for a project that is more than EUR 7 billion over budget. The next biggest issue is timing, as a combination of A400M delays and Lockheed’s strong push for its C-130J Super Hercules narrow the field for future exports. This DID Spotlight article covers the latest developments, as the A400M Atlas moves into the delivery phase. Will Airbus’ 3rd big issue become its own customers?
The A400M Program
A400M: Tech Specs and Issues
A400M: Industrial Team
Contracts & Key Events
2014 – 2017
2008 and earlier
Appendix A – The A400M Program: Dilemmas & a Deal
Background: A400M Program
News and Views
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