Feeds

Airbus: We'll cancel crap A400M unless we get more £££

OK, you do that. It's rubbish

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

Comment Pan-European aerospace megacorp Airbus has hinted that it may close down its A400M military airlifter project, despite the fact that the first aircraft has finally flown. The manufacturer cannot make a profit on the plane if it is delivered at the agreed price, and is trying to get concessions from the customer nations.

One of those customer nations is Britain, which was supposed to receive 25 planes for a planned price of £2.5bn, with delivery meant to begin some years ago. In the event, political wrangling and then colossal engineering blunders at Airbus and its subcontractors have pushed the probable UK delivery date to the middle of this decade.

This is a serious enough problem for Britain's armed forces, which have always suffered from a lack of airlift and are now hotly engaged in landlocked, remote, hostile Afghanistan. Despite the recent purchase of a small fleet of C-17 heavy airlifters from America, and the upgrading of many RAF C-130 Hercules shorthaul transports, the "air bridge" from Blighty to our forces in Helmand is very creaky indeed; and there are rumblings of crisis ahead on the in-theatre routes from base to base.

But the A400M is not just delayed - it's also overbudget. Under the deal between Airbus and the various European governments who have ordered planes, the prices are supposed to be fixed and indeed Airbus is liable for massive penalties resulting from the delays. But Airbus will lose a lot of money on the deal as it stands, and the firm claims to be thinking seriously of simply axing the project altogether.

"The aircraft can't be built under the current conditions," Airbus chief Thomas Enders told German mag Der Spiegel this week. "It is better to put an end to the horror than have horror without end."

Germany is thought to be the customer government playing the hardest ball in negotiations with Airbus thus far. France has stated that the customers should simply bite the pillow set out for them and pay more for their planes.

As a practical reality, it would be excellent news for Blighty if the A400M folded. Even at the contract price, it is shockingly poor value. Britain is buying heavy C-17s at the moment for £200m including support - it is normal to spend twice or three times purchase price on support through an aircraft's life - indicating a purchase price equivalent to £70m at most, compared to £100m for an A400M. But a C-17, despite being cheaper, is much bigger and carries twice or more what an A400M can.

And anyway the £100m pricetag is out of the window. If the UK stays with A400M there is no prospect of any more money being found by a cash-strapped Treasury, so the number of aircraft will have to fall; to 15 or fewer, according to some reports. Thus the real cost per plane would be £170m - more than twice what a vastly bigger and better C-17 costs.

Of course, vast C-17s aren't suitable for every task. In general, they're best employed on air bridge work - as between the UK and the Kandahar air hub in southern Afghanistan - and then stuff and people move about, say from Kandahar to Blighty's Camp Bastion - in smaller haulers. At the moment the shorthaul work is done by the RAF's fleet of C-130 Hercules. Perhaps the A400Ms could be useful here?

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
Boffins ID freakish spine-smothered prehistoric critter: The CLAW gave it away
Bizarre-looking creature actually related to velvet worms
ANU boffins demo 'tractor beam' in water
The current state of the art, apparently
China to test recoverable moon orbiter
I'll have some rocks and a moon cheese pizza please, home delivery
NASA's rock'n'roll shock: ROLLING STONE FOUND ON MARS
No sign of Ziggy Stardust and his band
What does a flashmob of 1,024 robots look like? Just like this
Sorry, Harvard, did you say kilobots or KILLER BOTS?
Why your mum was WRONG about whiffy tattooed people
They're a future source of RENEWABLE ENERGY
Vulture 2 spaceplane autopilot brain surgery a total success
LOHAN slips into some sexy bespoke mission parameters
Another step forward for diamond-based quantum computers
Square cut or pear-shaped, these qubits don't lose their shape
LOHAN acquires aircraft arboreal avoidance algorithm acronyms
Is that an ARMADILLO in your PANTS or are you just pleased to see me?
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Solving today's distributed Big Data backup challenges
Enable IT efficiency and allow a firm to access and reuse corporate information for competitive advantage, ultimately changing business outcomes.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.