Row After 'Totally Unacceptable' Engine Problems Keep £2.6bn Fleet on the Ground
(Source: The Daily Telegraph; published July 10, 2019)
By Dominic Nicholls
A row erupted at a recent Nato conference over the RAF's new £2.6 billion transporter planes as it has emerged engine problems mean just two of 20-strong fleet are able to fly at any one time.

The delay in bringing into service the new A400M plane for the RAF and other partner nations led to a major disagreement between Airbus, the aircraft manufacturer, and Nato Ministers.

Stuart Andrew, the MoD’s Minister for Procurement, said that after an “extremely robust meeting,” the problems with the A400M aircraft should be fixed by next year.

Concerns have been raised over the new aircraft since its inception in 2003. A recent Defence Select Committee was told that engineering staff at RAF Brize Norton called the aircraft “a dog” and that on occasion only two out of the fleet of 20 aircraft were serviceable.

In 2015 one A400M aircraft crashed in Spain during a test flight, killing four crew members. A software fault, since rectified, was found to be the cause of the crash.

In Parliament this week Mark Francois, a former Defence Minister, said: “We have paid £2.6 billion for an aircraft with appalling reliability, bad engines, a virtually broken gearbox, problem propellers, massive vibration problems and an inability to deliver paratroops.” (end of excerpt)


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Topical Questions for 8 July 2019
(Source: House of Commons Hansard for July 08, 2019)
Mr Mark Francois (Rayleigh and Wickford) (Con):

Thank you, Mr Speaker. The A400M is an emerging procurement disaster. We have paid £2.6 billion for an aircraft with appalling reliability, bad engines, a virtually broken gearbox, problem propellers, massive vibration problems and an inability to deliver paratroops.

There was recently a NATO ministerial meeting of the partner nations to decide what to do about the disaster. What was the outcome of that meeting?

Stuart Andrew

My right hon. Friend is right to highlight the issues with the A400M. I can assure him that I attended that ministerial meeting: it was an extremely robust meeting with industry. The performance has been totally unacceptable.

We are now expecting EuroProp International, the engine manufacturer, to be more empowered to negotiate the support solutions that we need.

Airbus Defence and Space has also been held to account, but, following the problems with the engines and gear boxes, those parts will be replaced on each of the aircraft by the middle of next year.

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