Technical problem on Airbus A400M maiden flight

Monday, January 25, 2010

Artist's impression of the Airbus A400M
Image: Sebastian Wallroth.

Airbus has confirmed that there was a software glitch on its Airbus A400M military transplort plane's maiden flight. The problem was relatively minor, and affected the software controlling its engines.

The glitch was not reported when the plane made its maiden flight on 11 December—four years behind schedule and $7.3 billion over budget, due to what the manufacturers call "political interference"—and only became public attention this weekend, when German magazine Der Spiegel cited confidential documents from engine maker Europrop in a report. The steering computer and backup system failed after thirty minutes.

The issue has been resolved, according to Airbus spokesman Jaime Perez-Guerra. Apparently, the glitch led the pilots to disengage an engine, allowing its blades to turn freely. Since then, he says, the plane has flown for nearly thirty hours and is exceeding expectations.

However, additional costs were involved, and European aerospace contractor EADS wants this cost to be shouldered by the seven customer nations: Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Spain, Turkey, and the United Kingdom. Airbus has asked that a decision on how the project is to procced be made before the end of the month.