Airbus Says Crashed A400M Aircraft Had Power Freeze in 3 Engines

Airbus Group SE said early findings from Spanish investigators probing the crash of an A400M military transport plane suggest all systems except engine controls already identified as troubled performed normally, probably ruling out intrinsic design flaws.

Three engines experienced power failure after takeoff and didn’t respond to the crew’s attempts to restore them, while other gear performed as expected in the aircraft that crashed near Seville in Spain killing four people on May 9, according to a statement from the Toulouse, France-based company. Following the crash, Airbus instructed operators of A400M transports to check the model’s engine-control system before making further flights.

The Spanish investigators looked at data from the plane’s flight-data-recorder and cockpit voice recorder. Indications that everything but the engine-control software performed normally would provide assurances that the plane’s essential design is sound. Airbus didn’t draw any conclusions about the design of the plane and its systems in today’s statement.

The engines were built by Europrop International, which includes Rolls-Royce Holdings Plc, Safran SA of France and Germany’s MTU Aero Engines AG.

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.

Airbus has 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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