Airbus sees 1-year delay in A-400M military transport aircraft roll-out

Mumbai: Airbus expects its A-400M military cargo aircraft to enter service at least 12 months later than expected. The announcement came a day after the firm handed over the first A-380 passenger aircraft to launch customer Singapore Airlines - 18 months past the scheduled date.

Industry sources close to the developments said Airbus A-400M deliveries would occur six months after of the October 2009 target date.

The Airbus A-400M is the largest military project in Europe. Issues concerning the gargantuan Airbus A-380 have effectively overshadowed the A-400M's production and delivery to date, but its development costs are nearly double those of the A-380.

Its first flight was originally slotted for January 2008. Earlier this year, EADS (European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company - Airbus' parent group) admitted that this would be pushed back. The company issued a statement on 17 October that attributed the delay to the "slow progression of the development of the engine."

The first Airbus A-400M is presently in Seville, Spain, with system tests scheduled to take place later this month.

The A-400M programme was launched four years ago, and involved input from eight countries - Belgium, France, Germany, Italy (which has since withdrawn), Luxembourg, Spain, Turkey and the UK. Among the roles it will be able to perform are the transportation of troops and/or cargo, electronic surveillance and tanking.

Airbus anticipates ultimately to be producing 30 aircraft a year.

The A-400M order book currently stands at 195, with Germany set to take the most. The Royal Air Force currently has 25 on order.