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Delay in delivery of A400M aircraft to NATO nations

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A 400m. Airbus image

LONDON (BNS): European aerospace consortium EADS has announced it would not be able to deliver A400 M military transport aircraft to NATO nations as it wants to renegotiate the contract.

The announcement could have an impact on the military operations in Afghanistan and other conflict areas where NATO forces are deployed. A400M was expected to augment the air transport capacity in these areas.

EADS claimed that the giant turbo-prop will not be ready before 2012. The delays have been attributed to the technical problems being faced by the engineers. There seems to be difficulties in the engine-control software which has already resulted in losses of $ 23 billion for the aviation giant, reports claimed.

The delay on A400M project comes close on the heels of delivery problems on other major platform A380 Super Jumbo. The A380 Super Jumbo is running two years behind its delivery schedule resulting in an increase of developmental costs.

EADS was scheduled to deliver A400M in 2009 according to the original plan. But it was still not sure if the delivery could be made even in 2012. The dates for the first flight test of the aircraft have also not been finalised.

The A400M is a huge transport aircraft capable of carrying two attack helicopters, a light tank and six utility vehicles and trailers. It leaves behind the capacities of American transport aircraft C130 J of Lockheed Martin and Boeing's C-17.

Aviation experts are worried about the delay and some even suggest that it was more significant than the problem with the A380 project. Apart from the software, the problem lies with the new engine TP400 which has not been tested yet. The engine is being jointly developed by Rolls Royce and France's Safran.

EADS had signed contract in 2003 with six European governments and Turkey for the supply of 192 A400Ms. The contract was worth 18 billion Euros. These six countries include Germany, France, Britain, Spain, Luxembourg and Belgium.

France was scheduled to get the first aircraft in 2009. But that clearly is not going to happen. The officials are not even ready to take a call if the aircraft would be ready by even 2012.

Apart from the military operations in conflict zones, the countries plan to use the aircraft on humanitarian missions. The EADS is calculating the financial implications of the delays and would press for renegotiations due to escalation in costs. It is expected to run into legal tussle with the countries who are already asking for penalties.

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