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Delivery of A400Ms in 2013 as planned: Airbus Military

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SEVILLE, SPAIN (BNS): European aircraft maker Airbus Military has said that it will deliver the first four A400M airlifters to three of its customers in 2013 despite a recent engine problem.

The engine issue had stalled the participation of one of the five A400M development aircraft at the Farnborough Air Show, UK in July.

The prototype aircraft, MSN6, was to undergo a total of 300 hour Function and Reliability (F&R) testing required for the award of the full Type Certificate.

However, the test had to be suspended after 160 hours of F&R flying because of "repeated detection of metallic chips in the oil system of one of the engines," the aircraft maker said.

The huge turboprop engines, designed by Europrop International (EPI), have delayed the delivery of the military transport plane amidst cost overruns in the project, pegged as Europe's biggest defence venture.

The EPI has made a new (engine) design available, which is currently in the validation process, Airbus Military said, adding that the MSN6 engines as well as all series production engines have been sent back to EPI to rectify the fault.

As a result of the engine issue, the Initial Operating Capability for the airlifter will now move into the first quarter of next year, followed by first delivery to the French Air Force (MSN7) in the second quarter of 2013, the company said.

"Despite this we maintain the overall delivery plan of four aircraft in 2013. There is a slight impact on the delivery of the second French aircraft (MSN8) while MSN9 (the first Turkish aircraft) and MSN10 (the third for France) will remain on schedule with delivery before the end of 2013.

"Other deliveries in 2014 and beyond continue as planned," it said.

Development of A400M by seven NATO partner nations - Belgium, Britain, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Spain and Turkey - has been delayed by several years. The project was originally planned at 20 billion euro but development delay has further escalated its cost with several customer nations shelving their original order for the giant plane.

Airbus Military has received orders for 170 A400M planes. Germany has ordered 53 planes, France 50 and Britain 22.

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