Serious doubts are being cast on Airbus Group’s delivery performance regarding the A400M. Last year Tom Enders the Chief Executive for the Airbus Group publicly apologized for the development and production delays in a surprisingly humble announcement. Fast forward to last week at the annual results briefing and it was more or so the same, Enders once again lamented about the development and production troubles affecting the A400M. Airbus Group had only 11 of the planned 23 Atlas airlifters to show for in the fiscal year of 2015 which is two shy of the minimum targeted for the end of the year. To the surprise of no one in the building, the delays were largely due to the test flight crash in May in which four company personnel were killed. That tragedy sparked a temporary fleet-wide grounding that was the culprit for flight testing and delivery schedule set-backs. Tom Enders does expect 2016 to be a rebound year with estimated deliveries of at least 20 A400Ms which could be adjusted if the negotiations for the seven European launch nations were to conclude as previously expected last December.
The A400M program is under heavy scrutiny and although there has been little indication that the program is under any risk of dissolution due to the delays, Airbus cannot be happy to see France who is one of their partner launch nations turn to a rival in Lockheed Martin to place an order for their KC-130J Tankers. For now, Airbus can only hope they stay on schedule while their partner nations meet to decide to reduce the production rate or ramp it up. This will have a profound impact on the movement of the production numbers whether that be positive or negative. Enders has promised that there will be “Management and organizational consequences” should the A400M team experience any other hiccups in schedule.