Airbus Tells A400M Users to Test Engine Controls After Crash

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An Aribus A400M Military-Transport Plane
An Aribus A400M military-transport plane. Photographer: Mark Dadswell/Bloomberg

Airbus Group NV instructed operators of A400M military-transport planes like the one that crashed in Spain on May 9, killing four people, to carry out checks on the model’s engine-control system before making further flights.

Airbus sent a so-called alert operator transmission to all users of the A400M Tuesday requiring one-time checks on the electronic control units for each of the plane’s four turboprop engines, the Toulouse, France-based company said in a statement.

“To avoid potential risks in any future flights, Airbus Defence and Space has informed the operators about necessary actions to take,” Airbus said. “These results have immediately been shared with the official investigation team.”

The AOT, which also applies to any engine or control-unit replacements, results from Airbus’s “internal analysis” after the crash near Seville, independent of the ongoing official probe, the company said. A400Ms coming off the production line are already barred from entering pre-handover testing by the Spanish Defence Ministry pending the conclusion of the probe.

Airbus shares pared gains following the announcement and were priced 2.4 percent higher at 62.97 euros as of 4:45 p.m. in Paris after earlier trading as much as 3.5 percent higher.

Software Malfunctions

Engine producer Europrop International, which includes Rolls-Royce Holdings Plc, Safran SA of France and Germany’s MTU Aero Engines AG, has declined to comment on the crash. Shares of Rolls-Royce, Safran and MTU also pared gains.

The first A400M, handed over to France in 2013, was delivered a decade after the program was begun and four years later than planned after a spate of delays from glitches including engine-control software malfunctions. Even before the crash Airbus warned of new cost issues in ramping up output.

The defense program -- Europe’s most expensive -- has cost the company and governments 25 billion euros ($28 billion), about a quarter more than originally planned, though militaries from the U.K. to France and Germany are keen to get their hands on a modern transport plane to replace aging equipment.

Before the crash Airbus had a backlog of 162 of the aircraft, with 12 already handed over to buyers. A schedule to deliver a total of 14 A400Ms this year is under review.

The A400M fits in between Lockheed Martin Corp.’s aging C-130 Hercules model and the larger Boeing Co. C-17 Globemaster and satisfies an acute requirement that spans the airlift of military hardware through troop transport to disaster relief.

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