Interim fix for A400M engine issue certified: Airbus

Sat Jul 9, 2016 4:26pm EDT
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By Andrea Shalal

RAF FAIRFORD, England (Reuters) - European authorities have certified an interim fix for a power gearbox issue with engines on Airbus Group SE's (AIR.PA: Quote) A400M transport aircraft, paving the way for countries to resume normal operations of the planes, company officials said on Saturday.

"It's good news. It means that we're going to be alleviating the pain of the nations sooner," Fernando Alonso, president of Airbus Military Aircraft, told Reuters. "It means they will essentially be able to use the aircraft normally again."

Alonso said the European Aviation Safety Agency would now require initial inspections of the planes after 650 flight hours, up from 100 hours, with follow-up inspections to be required every 150 hours, up from the 20-hour cycle imposed after the gearbox issue first emerged in late December.

The EASA certification clears the way for Italy’s Avio, a unit of General Electric Co (GE.N: Quote), to begin retrofitting engines on existing planes with a modified part to replace the one with cracking. It can also begin producing new power gearbox kits with the part integrated.

Airbus said the certification of the interim fix came a month or more sooner than planned. The company is continuing to work with GE and Avio on a long-term solution for the gearbox.

Alonso said Airbus was also focused on adding tactical capabilities to the big transport plane, and has delivered the first aircraft capable of tactical tasks to France.

The new plane offers armoring protection, refueling, the ability to airdrop loads, landings on some non-prepared runways and equipment to detect and counter enemy radars and missiles.

Airbus has delivered 27 A400M aircraft to date, including a fourth plane delivered to Germany on Friday, the company said.   Continued...

An Airbus A400M military aircraft participates in a flying display during the 51st Paris Air Show at Le Bourget airport near Paris, France, June 16, 2015.  REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol/Files