Wednesday, October 17, 2007

AFP Reports Six Month Delay For A-400M

Agencie France Presse reports this morning that the Airbus A400M military airlifter project has been delayed by about six months or so primarily because of unstated problems with the engines.

None of which surprised me, as the TP400M powerplant project is a story in itself of just how far Eurocentric pork barrel projects can go wrong and annoy people in the bargain.

Consider that when the project was being promoted, P&W-Canada had a proposal on the table to develop and produce an engine for the A400M that might have cost about 20 per cent less to buy.

But rather than shop in the dollar zone and buy from a known quality house with significant expertise in project management and building large turboprop engines, some serious arm twisting awarded the project to develop the engine to Europrop International, a special purpose, all European lashup of Rolls, SNECMA, MTU, and ITP.

All those firms have significant engine building expertise, it is true, but only Rolls, by virtue of its acquisition of Allison, has any idea of what goes on inside big husky turboprops, and I'm quite sure that the Hoosiers were not going to be part of the Europrop equation anyway, except in a peripheral sort of way.

And when you think of it, developing a single purpose engine that is significantly different than what the Europrop partners have ever built before (unless you count the antiquated Dart) and that has no civil analogue or other use is bound to be a recipe for problems.

Quite simply, giving the quarterback slot to an untried rookie was bound to be trouble.

And then, to add insult to the injury being felt in the bars and coffee shops around the Pratt works for being played, Airbus threatened the Canadian government with a lawsuit for not selecting the A400M as its next airlifter.

Hey, it's the season for delays, right? I mean, Boeing has a little egg on its face too, but over at Airbus they want the whole damned henhouse.


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