Germany has grounded two of its three A400M transport aircraft due to newly discovered gearbox issues on their turboprop engines.
The Airbus A400M Atlas is a multi-national transport aircraft. It was designed by Airbus Military as a tactical airlifter with strategic capabilities to replace older transport aircraft, such as the Transall C-160 and the Lockheed C-130 Hercules.
The A400M is positioned, in terms of size, between the C-130 and the C-17; it can carry heavier loads than the C-130, while able to use rough landing strips.
Kieran Daly, spokesman for Airbus Defence and Space, said:
“We confirm that two of the three German A400M aircraft have newly been discovered to have suffered the propeller gearbox cracking problem, and we will support the customer in addressing that.”
It has also been reported that German defence minister Ursula von der Leyen is to claim compensation from Airbus in response to delays in the delivery of A400M transport aircraft.
In May, Airbus confirmed that it wants to swap out airframe components in Germany’s A400M transports after cracks were discovered in a French A400M; this swap could take up to seven months.
Airbus identified an unknown cracking behaviour in an aluminium fuselage part during quality control checks in 2011; the issue did not affect flight safety and repairs could be incorporated into regular maintenance and upgrade schedules. A “retrospective process” to remove the material from aircraft already in service is now being defined.
At the end of May, Airbus chief Tom Enders conceded in an interview published in Bild am Sonntag that some of the “massive problems” dogging the A400M were of the group’s own making. He said “We underestimated the engine problems” and “Airbus had let itself be persuaded by some well-known European leaders into using an engine made by an inexperienced consortium.”
Furthermore, it had let itself be roped into assuming full responsibility for this new type of turbo-prop engine, he continued. “These are two massive problems which we’re now paying for.”