Further A400M contributions needed

The chief executives of Airbus and EADS have warned they may cancel the development of the A400M if the military transport’s customers do not make further contributions to the programme.

Tom Enders and Louis Gallois gave the stern warning at EADS’ New Year press conference on 12 January in Seville, where the four-engine turboprop military transport aircraft took its maiden voyage on 11 December last year.

Gallois said that a final decision on the fate of the aircraft will be made by 31 January. By then, EADS and Airbus hope to be in negotiations with their current government customers.

A total of 180 A400M aircraft costing approximately €20bn (£18bn) have been ordered by seven European countries, including the UK.

Customers are now being asked to provide more money to keep the programme active, although chief executives Enders and Gallois were unwilling to divulge the total contributions they will be asking for.

Enders did, however, stress the importance of keeping the A400M programme alive, which employs 40,000 across Europe.

The A400M has undergone several delays over the years due to miscalculations on the aircraft’s weight-carrying capabilities and engine problems.

Gallois did admit that several mistakes were made throughout the development process. Those mistakes included entering into a fixed-price contract with European customers, underestimating the technical challenges of the aircraft and agreeing to an ‘unreasonable timescale,’ he said.