defenceWeb editor Leon Engelbrecht
Published with consent from defenceWeb
The Chief of the South African Air Force says he is
concerned about reports that Airbus’ military transport
programme is facing delay and adds he hopes the A400M
Loadmaster programme can be brought back on track.
SA was previously scheduled to receive eight of the aircraft
at a cost of R7.4 billion from next year.
Lt Gen Carlo Gagiano adds that the air force is closely
watching the position of the European defence acquisition
authority OCCAR that is representing a number of North
Atlantic Treaty Organisation air forces.
Airbus Chief Executive Tom Enders earlier this month said
says the current organisational and contractual structure of
the A400M programme was a "recipe for disaster".
"We want to continue the programme, but we want to continue
it in a way that ensures success for the customers and
success for the industry.”
Enders said he wanted to sit down OCCAR “to discuss the
programme schedule along with changes to other areas of the
contract including in particular certain technical
He adds that deliveries will now be at least three years
Gagiano says Enders’ comments make it “clear that Airbus
Military is advocating a new approach to recover from the
effects of continued slippage on the program and
non-achievement of project milestones.
“For Airbus it is important that an acceptable solution to
their predicament is found, since their customers have
contractual recourse if milestones are not achieved,” the
SAAF chief adds. Airbus currently has 192 A400M orders in
hand – 180 from OCCAR, eight from SA and four from Malaysia.
“As for all the nations involved in this program, we are
concerned that the envisaged slippage on the program will
overtax an already strained air transport capability,”
“OCCAR and Airbus Military are engaged in discussions to
establish the way forward. The RSA will evaluate the
position OCCAR (as the acquisition agency of the leading
nations) is going to take. Based on this, an option to the
best advantage of the Defence Force will be formulated.”
In another development, Reuters reports Airbus parent EADS
as denying it plans to cancel the programme. “There is no
discussion within EADS about a scenario to withdraw from the
A400M programme, contrary to what has been circulated in the
press," the group said Friday.
Meanwhile Aerosud programme director Rob Jonkers says the
delay will impact suppliers to the programme, including his
“Yes, there is fallout; and it affects the entire industry
that is involved…” He adds that “we do not however have a
clear picture yet on how this will affect us.”
Jonkers says the aircraft is still in its development phase
with Aerosud “still supplying components for the prototypes
and complete development for the various versions”.
“Also most of our packages are components that are fitted
later in the build, thus we potentially will only see the
effects later, and we are currently in negotiation with the
A400 team to re-allocate milestones and contractual
“For now production is on hold till further notice”, Jonkers
Denel Saab Aerostructures (DSA) chief executive officer Lana
Kinley says her company has two work packages - the Wing to
Fuselage Fairing and the Top Shell. “We have been expecting
the delays for some time and reduced our business forecasts
Denel group executive: technical Maj Gen Otto Schьr (Ret)
last September told Engineering News that DSA has had to
redesign some of the components it was producing for the
A400M “owing to a number of critical factors affecting the
Schьr, previously a senior official in the Department of
Defence’s Defence Materiel Division, admitted the DSA A400M
programme “has not been without problems.”
“But the delays with the aircraft’s engines have reduced the
pressures on us, as well as on all other contributors to the
programme,” he told the engineering publication.
A fundamental difficulty was that the weight of the A400M
had substantially increased, meaning that the wing-fuselage
fairings that were originally “meant to be just fairings”
have become load-bearing structures, “thus necessitating
significant redesign,” he explains. “And, as a risk-bearing
partner, DSA has had to bear the cost of this redesign”.
There have been media claims that the A400M is as much as
12mt overweight and 3mt short of its designed-for 37mt