More Woes for the A400M

SHAH ALAM: GERMAN media are reporting that further delivery of the Airbus A400M air-lifter to the country’s air force will be delayed due to engine faults. It is probably the reason RMAF third A400M – M54-03 – delivery is also looking doubtful.

RMAF chief Tan Sri Roslan Saad when met at the Starstreak firing last week said the delivery date of 03 has yet to be confirmed. He said the aircraft was still conducting test flights at the Airbus Defence and Space facility in Seville, Spain.

Roslan flew with the A400M to Johor together with Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein for the Starstreak firing exercise.

Hishammuddin (centre) preparing to board A400M M54-01 for Johor, on March 28, 2016 for the Starstreak firings. Twitter PTL.
Hishammuddin (centre) preparing to board A400M M54-01 for Johor, on March 28, 2016 for the Starstreak firings. Twitter PTL.

Both the minister and RMAF chief had stated previously that the third A400M was scheduled to be delivered in April. However, as today is the only fifth day of April, Airbus, still has 25 days to make good on the delivery.

It is likely that the two A400M delivered to RMAF had undergone checks to ensure the problems as reported are sorted out.

The problems reported are:

“Two separate problems have been identified in the gear boxes, requiring the aircraft to undergo regular inspections and to have parts replaced if necessary, Airbus told Reuters April 1.

One issue was with the material structure and strength of the ring gear in about 14 gear boxes produced in the first half of 2015.

The other problem was cracking of a plug that could see small parts of metal released into the oil system of the gearbox, affecting gear boxes that rotate to the right.”

From DW.

” The “Bild” newspaper reported that parts of the propeller engines could not cope with extreme temperatures and that individual parts of the engine were found to have “material flaws.” The newspaper also claimed that one engine on a British A400M had cut out during a flight, though this had not yet happened to the three planes already owned by Germany’s air force.

The Defense Ministry confirmed the report on Friday. “Yes, it’s true that the airplane manufacturer has found problems with the propeller engine,” a spokeswoman for the ministry told the Reuters news agency before adding that the Italian company that manufactures the engines for Airbus was analyzing the problems and that Airbus had offered to repair the engines free of charge.”

For the full story go herA400Me

A Luftwaffe A400M Atlas undergoing checks prior to delivery in late 2015.
A Luftwaffe A400M Atlas undergoing checks prior to delivery in late 2015.

From DPA
“An Airbus spokeswoman told Germany’s dpa wire service April 1 that the problems outlined in the report of abrasive wear and heat resistance in the plane‘s engines are “essentially correct.”

Two separate problems have been identified in the gear boxes, requiring the aircraft to undergo regular inspections and to have parts replaced if necessary, Airbus told Reuters April 1.

One issue was with the material structure and strength of the ring gear in about 14 gear boxes produced in the first half of 2015.

The other problem was cracking of a plug that could see small parts of metal released into the oil system of the gearbox, affecting gear boxes that rotate to the right.

However, Airbus stressed that the aircraft, which have four propeller engines, can fly normally.
The Airbus spokeswoman told dpa that the heat resistance issue had already been solved, and that Airbus was “working hard” to solve the second problem. “It has no impact on the security of the plane. The problem can be solved during regular engine inspections,” the spokeswoman said.

“This isn’t good news,” German Defense Ministry spokesman Boris Nannt told Bloomberg News in Berlin Friday. Airbus discovered issues with the transmission, prompting European air-safety regulators to order additional precautionary measures and a search for the cause by the component’s manufacturer, Italy-based Avio Aero, he said.

Bloomberg also quoted Fernando Alonso, Airbus’s military aircraft chief, as saying in a statement he’s confident the engine and transmission suppliers can fix the issue in time to meet a goal of delivering 20 A400Ms in 2016. Nannt said that wasn’t certain.

— Malaysian Defence

If you like this post, buy me an espresso. Paypal Payment

Share
About Marhalim Abas 1626 Articles
Shah Alam

12 Comments

  1. Some prophets of doom will say we should have never bought the A400M because of all the delays it went through and the various technical issues that still prop up. The fact remains however that almost all major programmes [including the C-130, F/A-18, F-14, etc] went through various delays and technical issues and yet turned out to be a long term success.

    Whether we actually need A400Ms or whether it was politically/national interest driven is debatable. Most will say we need the extra space it provides and the extra range [over the C-130H] and that it’s ”state of the art”.

    No doubt it has clear advantages over the C-130H [no surprise as its more than a generation ahead in technology] but how often will we need the extra cargo space [given that unlike most who also ordered it; we don’t have global military commitments] the A400M provides and in the long term, how much more expensive [being a larger aircraft and having more electronics/avionics] will it be to run compared to the C-130H and C-130J? As it is, many times our C-130s are flying with cargo spaces that are not even half utilised. Given that we have 14 or 15 [?] C-130Hs, whose airframes [despite their age] still have lots of hours left; perhaps we should have gone for additional medium lifters to complement the 6 CNN-235s we have? My main concern, apart from long term running costs, is that our A400Ms will spend most of their time doing sorties with half filled cargo space : sorties that a C-130H or a C-130J can do….

  2. Is there a plan to add more a400m in the future? As replacement for aging c-130h Hercules. Probably not for the 5 c-130h-30 that were bought during the mid 90s.

    Reply
    Not at the moment. Perhaps we may even buy the J version of the Hercules if they could not fix the problems with the A400M namely the ability to refuel helicopters and have a para-drop from both sides of the aircraft. Germany is mulling the J because of the first issue, French already did and that is the same reason the RAF is holding on to its Js beyond 2030.

  3. Currently we still have 14 c-130h and h30 hercules, the newest was bought in the early 90s. There should be no issues supporting the c-130h as almost all hercules maintenance can be done in malaysia, even the most complex ones like center wing box, fuselage extension, even repairing crashed ones (done at least twice, with the c-130h-mp and the ex- tunisian hercules)

    I don’t think that we should buy the J hercules as it is very expensive and we still have lots of good h models with comparatively low hours (plus adding another different variants to the mix)

    As for whether we need the a400m, to me as we have bought it, we should fully use its capability. It would be a very useful capability to use for the airbridge between east and west malaysia. The a400m would also be a great capability enhancer for the para brigade.

  4. Can we convert a few, say 4, C-130H into MPAs with Boeing assistance of course..

    Reply
    Not Boeing lah, Rockwell Collins..

  5. Having spoken to our A400M crew, it appears the RMAF had no plans to acquire the type. Our role and tactical employment course for the A400M are exactly the same as the C-130.

    ” It would be a very useful capability to use for the airbridge between east and west malaysia. The a400m would also be a great capability enhancer for the para brigade.”

    What are we carrying, and how often, that the C-130 cannot carry?

    Even if we have to send two C-130s or charter a heavier aircraft, it happens so infrequently that it is much cheaper than operating a completely separate type. The Para brigade operates no such equipment that the C-130 cannot carry.

    Occasionally useful, but the air force has much better things to do with the savings.

    Reply
    Afaik there is no further plans to buy more A400M .That said if the power that be decide to do so even the air force chief will have to go along with it just like what happened back in 2005.

  6. @ am

    Yes I am also fully aware that the a400m buy is not a requirement from tudm. The a400m buy has taken out a large chunk of tudm’s budget that they are currently struggling to plan their other buys (but that said, it should not be an excuse not able to have a good plan around the money already spent on a400m)

    What a400m brings is its oversized load capability. It could carry the cougar/Caracal helicopter, or a pair of blackhawks. The cb90 boat theoretically fits (no trials done yet) and also the av8 gempita.

  7. It’s carrying capacity [amongst others] is what’s used to justify its purchase but in reality; how often are we likely to need such a capability? As for its ability to carry AV-8s; great, but assuming all are operational or available for the tasking; how many sorties are needed to lift a squadron of AV-8s or a regiment’s worth? Air lift is great for rushing stuff in but at the end of the day, heavy sea lift assets [whether military or commercial] is what will be use if we ever have to lift heavy or bulky gear to east Malaysia.

  8. Who is not complaining about the A400M? Only the one who wants our light infantry to carry more weapons, wants our artillery to be maximum range, wants us to acquire Chinooks, wants our patrol vessels to be armed to the teeth, wants us to acquire the JF-17 (all real examples).

  9. @ am

    I don’t understand where you are coming from… As if someone can turn back the time and cancel the a400m order (if I can I would too, and tudm would have the budget it needed for mrca and others)

    Personally I also wish the ATM to have gotten something different (av8, av4, aw109luh, mig-29, mb339cm, a400m, ngpv meko, laksamana) but those has been bought and want it or not, we have to live with them and include them in any future plans.

  10. The A400M is here to stay and it has a role to play. the key fact remains however : unlike other air arms, whose countries have global commitments and who have operational requirements that differ from ours; my guess is that the RMAF [the bulk of the time] will be hard pressed to fully utilise the capabilities offered by the A400M; especially given that the C-130s more than fit our requirements when it comes to range and lift capacity. As for me, I’m curious to find out how much more expensive the A400M is [per hour of flying, which includes related maintenance] compared to the C-130H and J.

  11. “As for me, I’m curious to find out how much more expensive the A400M is [per hour of flying, which includes related maintenance] compared to the C-130H and J.”

    You can ask the RAF. For some reason, they operate the C-17, A400M, and the C-130K which they are replacing with the C-130J standard and extended body variants.

    Buying the A400M is a not good thing just because the RAF does it. The RAF is decreasing its order for A400Ms, like Germany and Spain have done, and increasing the number of Js.

    Aside from operating cost, the A400M bears the most development cost and risk and this has not been fully paid off.

  12. AFAIK, one of the reason Malaysia decided to buy A400 is the offset program which is CTRM deal. Every A400 has a part that made in Malaysia by CTRM.

    Reply
    The offset deal is the reason we bought the A400M. Apart from CTRM, Contraves Malaysia Sdn Bhd also made parts for the A400M the cargo assembly system. It also build parts for Airbus commercial aircraft. Contraves is also of one of the LCS main sub contractors.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*