AIRBUS ADMITS IT MAY SCRAP A400M MILITARY TRANSPORT AIRCRAFT
Source: The Daily Telegraph
By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard
Airbus has acknowledged that its
A400M military transport venture has degenerated into a
disaster and may have to be scrapped altogether.
"The aircraft can't be built
under the current conditions," said Thomas Enders, chief
executive of Europe's planemaker, in an interview with Der
"It is better to put an end to
the horror than have horror without end."
The project has been plagued by delays and excess costs,
entailing €1.7bn (£1.57bn) in penalties.
European states have ordered 180 of the giant transporters,
designed to carry up to 32 tonnes, but France has already
threatened to cut back.
The aircraft is over-weight. Its
turbo-prop engines built by Rolls-Royce and France's Snecma
are under-powered. There have been serious glitches in the
software from MTU Aero Engines.
Airbus has only just recovered from the wiring debacle in
the A380 superjumbo, which cost $4.8bn (£3.3bn) in delays
and toppled three Airbus chiefs.
The A380 is in service but has
been grounded repeatedly and is proving too large for most
routes. It is unclear whether Airbus will ever win enough
orders to cover costs.
Germany's state-secretary for
defence, Rudiger Wolf, has threatened to pull the plug on
the A400M if Berlin does not receive clarification for the
delays by early April. "I don't think it makes any sense to
struggle on to the bitter end," he said.
EADS, the Airbus mother-company,
may have to repay €5.7bn in fees to Europe's governments if
it drops the €20bn project.
Mr Enders said Airbus had made
"big mistakes" but also lashed out at the EU and the US,
deeming it "bizarre" that governments are turning their back
on aeronautics yet spending billions rescuing banks.
He said Airbus will not make "a
pilgrimage to Berlin or Paris" to plead for help. Germany,
France, Spain, and Britain, which all host Airbus plants,
are loath to see a prestige venture collapse with heavy job
EADS has so far held up well
through the aviation slump, making €1.57bn in profit last
But the group is still delivering aircraft into orders
placed during the boom and Airbus's currency hedges are
gradually running out.
In Britain, MPs on the Defence
Select Committee have suggested ditching the A400M
altogether, opting for cheaper models from Lockheed Martin