PARIS/MADRID (Reuters) - Airbus (AIR.PA) hopes to be able to restart production test flights of its A400M military aircraft soon, paving the way for a rapid resumption of deliveries that were halted following a recent crash, the company said on Sunday.
Its chief executive simultaneously moved to allay Spanish concerns about its workers carrying the blame for the accident, which has been linked in part to a software installation error.
The plane crashed minutes into a pre-delivery test flight on May 9, prompting Spain to halt similar flights and thus effectively suspending deliveries of the troop and cargo plane.
“We hope to be able to fly our production aircraft soon. There are two aircraft ready to start the delivery process as soon as the temporary suspension of the license has been lifted,” an Airbus Defence & Space spokeswoman said on Sunday.
On Saturday, Spain’s defense minister was quoted as saying the Madrid authorities had scheduled a meeting with Airbus on Monday to pose a series of questions following the crash.
“If the answers to the questions are positive, test flights of the grounded prototypes will be restarted and, from there, the authorization for the others will start being granted. It’s all about allowing the company to implement the corrections they consider appropriate and to continue to operate, which is what we want,” Pedro Morenes told newspaper El Pais.
He also warned against scapegoating Spanish workers over the incident.
“As Fernando Alonso (head of Airbus’ military aircraft division) said, this is not a problem of Seville, Toulouse or Hamburg, but of Airbus. The responsibility of this company’s products is the company itself, independently of where they’re produced.”
A senior Airbus executive was quoted last month as blaming the crash on poor quality controls in Seville where the A400M is completed. The remarks ruffled feathers in Spain, where an investigation is continuing into the causes of the crash.
Airbus Group Chief Executive Tom Enders sought on Sunday to smooth the concerns.
“I fully agree with Pedro Morenes, it is a matter for Airbus as a whole and not just Sevilla or our hardworking and extremely dedicated people producing the A400M,” Enders said in remarks relayed by the spokeswoman.
He expressed full confidence in Alonso to take the right decisions on the A400M together with Spanish authorities.
Reporting by Tim Hepher, Paul Day, editing by David Evans