Airbus’ A400M Aerial Transport: Delays, Development, and Deployment
February 15/17: Airbus will breath a sigh of relief after an investigation into an oil leak that grounded a A400M transporter which was carrying a German government minister on board does not point to a fundamental new problem with the plane . Initial reports suggested that the leak appeared to be linked to the hydraulic system used to adjust the turbine blades in one of the four powerful A400M engines. However, it is now suggested that the leak had been found between the propellers and the nacelle, or engine housing, which are part of the power system but not components of the engine itself. Last week’s breakdown was on a trip that was meant to showcase the aircraft’s capabilities as Airbus seeks to win back confidence in the troubled A400M project.
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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