A400m

Todjaeger

Potstirrer
This Flight Global article tries to compare the A400M's developmental problems to LM's C-130J program. It doesn't wash IMHO, maybe it does for some European fans (if there are any left).

OPINION: C-130J's success gives hope to A400M
Having read the opinion piece, I have to wonder if the writer was wearing tinted glasses and/or something peculiar weeds when writing the piece. Yes, both designs had or have some initial service issues. The piece fails to mention what those issues were/are, or how severe, and seems to assume that because one aerospace company was able to successfully resolve issues with their design, a rival company will be able to do the same.

Now I do think the A400M can be brought into service, albeit perhaps not with the performance capabilities initially required or specified. The question which is IMO relevant is whether or not Airbus and the programme nations are willing to continue paying to develop the A400M to get it into service.

Me being me, I suspect that some will get up, but that some hard decisions will be made as it seems some of the goals were overly ambitious, and/or the programme structure has been inadequate to function successfully.

By was of example, there are three other, older prop airlifter designs in roughly the same weight class that served successfully back in the 60's and 70's, namely the Short Belfast, and the Douglas C-124 Globemaster II and C-133 Cargomaster. If designs that originated in the 1950's could be that size/scale and function successfully, that suggests to me the basic objective of the A400M is possible. This in turn makes me suspect that the programme difficulties stem from additional capability requirements and/or how Airbus has gone about attempting to meet the requirements.

One area I consider particularly suspect is the Europrop International joint venture which came about to provide workshares on the A400M engines. Aside from the Airbus specifications calling for such a powerful turboprop, instead of contracting with one or two companies to design a suitable prop (or using an existing one with less power) having four European engine companies working together to design the prop... to me that sounds like asking for the old adage, "too many cooks spoil the soup," to come true.
 

t68

Well-Known Member
On paper the A400M should be moving in leaps and bounds, hell even the A400M seemed to be the perfect fit for USAF Joint Future Theatre Lift to replace C130 or perhaps Boeing should scale down the C17 with turbo props to compete. Maybe that was the eventual point to gain access to the US market hoping the US will cover addtional R&D funding.


Joint Future Theatre Lift (JFTL) Technology Study (JTS) Capability Request for Information (CRFI) - Federal Business Opportunities: Opportunities

http://www.airforcemag.com/SiteCollectionDocuments/Reports/2010/October 2010/Day25/JFTL_CRFI__102210.pdf
 

40 deg south

Well-Known Member
Indonesia confirms A400M acquisition plan | Jane's 360

Janes reporting that Indonesia have ordered two A400s, after several years of on-again off-again speculation. Given Indonesia's troubled procurement processes, this may be less certain than it sounds.

Incidentally, I noticed in a report on the Singapore air show earlier in the year that the top three in-service A400s with the highest flight hours all belonged to Malaysia. It would be very interesting knowing how they have found the entry into service - hopefully NZ's defence attache in Singapore has some useful connections.
 

Ananda

Well-Known Member
Indonesia confirms A400M acquisition plan | Jane's 360

Janes reporting that Indonesia have ordered two A400s, after several years of on-again off-again speculation. Given Indonesia's troubled procurement processes, this may be less certain than...
As I mentioned in Indonesian AF thread a day before..'If' (and I emphasis in 'If') the deal going through..it will be done through State owned Enterprises (SOE) ministry, thus not through Mindef or Defence Budget.

The procurement then will not follow ussual defence items procurement, but through commercial process in SOE. Thus will not follow ussual political lobying in Parliement.

This not without precedents, under Soeharto era the SOE (that time using Pelita Air a subsidiaries of State Owned Oil Company Pertamina), bought C-160 Transall and L-100 (in fact all L-100 currently in TNI-AU inventory, procured through SOE commercial deal). They are operated commercially, but can be used for TNI operation if needed. The way I see it, this is the Administration other way around on getting Heavy Lifter without using Defense Budget process that are more tiresome.
 

Sandhi Yudha

Well-Known Member
Indonesia confirms A400M acquisition plan | Jane's 360

Janes reporting that Indonesia have ordered two A400s, after several years of on-again off-again speculation. Given Indonesia's troubled procurement processes, this may be less certain than it sounds.

Incidentally, I noticed in a report on the Singapore air show earlier in the year that the top three in-service A400s with the highest flight hours all belonged to Malaysia. It would be very interesting knowing how they have found the entry into service - hopefully NZ's defence attache in Singapore has some useful connections.
Like you and Ananda already said, nothing is certain.
"The Indonesian Air Force (Tentara Nasional Indonesia Angkatan Udara: TNI-AU) has confirmed its plans to procure........."
thats something else than
"....has signed a contract with a value of..... and deliveries starting in...."
 

OPSSG

Super Moderator
Staff member
Like you and Ananda already said, nothing is certain.
"The Indonesian Air Force (Tentara Nasional Indonesia Angkatan Udara: TNI-AU) has confirmed its plans to procure........."
thats something else than
"....has signed a contract with a value of..... and deliveries starting in...."
No real news of any A400m purchase for Indonesia thus far, with NZDF choosing the C-130J.
Airbus are slashing the A400M assembly rate from 19 last year to eight per year from 2020. Don't think that this will do it's chances in NZ any good.

Airbus to slash A400M assembly rate
I am still a big fan of the A400m due to its unique features (despite its reported problems).

Let’s see if Spain can swap four to six A-400Ms with Korea in return for 30 KT-1 and 20 T-50 trainers. Spain ordered 27 A-400M from Airbus but has decided to sell 13 of them and received consent from Airbus. There is a good chance that Korea will eventually becomes a A400m user, if the deal with Spain is struck.
 
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John Fedup

The Bunker Group
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #50
Until the ongoing engine gearbox problems are sorted, the A400 is a risky option.
 

ngatimozart

Super Moderator
Staff member
Verified Defense Pro
No news of any A400m purchase for Indonesia thus far, with NZDF choosing the C-130J.

I am still a big fan of the A400m due to its unique features (despite its reported problems).

Let’s see if Spain can swap four to six A-400Ms with Korea in return for 30 KT-1 and 20 T-50 trainers. Spain ordered 27 A-400M from Airbus but has decided to sell 13 of them and received consent from Airbus. There is a good chance that Korea will eventually becomes a A400m user, if the deal with Spain is struck.
I get the impression that NZ has gone off the A400M not only because of the engine problems, but also sustainment problems that they have encountered with the NH90. Secondly they have observed the sustainment problems that the Australians having with their MRH90 and Tiger fleets and that would have made any A400M acquisition appear even more riskier.
 

OPSSG

Super Moderator
Staff member
IMHO, if the Korean swap deal with Spain goes through, I suspect that Singapore in 2021-2025 will consider the A400m as a contender for our C-130H replacement — that way the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) can deliver our own Chinooks and Apaches for Ex Wallaby and Ex Trident (held annually in Australia) and expand our training facilities and footprint in France.
  • With a maximum payload of up to 37 tonnes (81,600 lb) and a volume of 340 m3 (12,000 ft3), the A400m can carry numerous pieces of outsize cargo that the RSAF’s current c-130H just can’t squeeze in. This will reduce RSAF’s reliance on contractor support to move its own equipment — the A400m’s vast cargo hold has a usable width of four metres (13 ft 1 in), height of up to four metres (13 ft 1 in), and usable length of 17.7 metres (58 ft).
  • The RSAF is not going to be an early adopter of the type but if the A400m has matured well by 2021, it’s got a chance to be evaluated — especially if the Europeans consider acquiring the new 16.5 ton Bronco 3 (to replace their Bv206S) or the new 155mm/52 caliber Advanced Mobile Gun Systems (AMGS) as counter trade. But I caution that the RSAF’s patience for the A400m issues to be resolved is not unlimited.
Currently, there is good reason why Airbus remains confident that it can secure export customers for its A400M airlifter, but has cautioned that sales are likely to be relatively modest given the aircraft’s cost and sophistication.

Airbus has a 174-aircraft order book that comprises 53 for Germany, 50 for France, 27 for Spain, 22 for the UK, 10 for Turkey, eight for Belgium (including one to be operated on behalf of Luxembourg), and 4 for Malaysia. Of these, 72 have been delivered to date.
Until the ongoing engine gearbox problems are sorted, the A400 is a risky option.
Likely that the known gearbox problem is only fixed in 2020. Until a number of issues is fixed by 2021, the A400M is reportedly very unreliable and unable to meet mission requirements — so I suspect that there will be no Spain-Korea deal until the fixes are in. In UK Parliament in July. Mark Francois, a former Defence Minister, said: “We have paid £2.6 billion for an aircraft with appalling reliability, bad engines, a virtually broken gearbox, problem propellers, massive vibration problems and an inability to deliver paratroops.” The A400m’s inability to provide air-to-air refuelling support to helicopters prompted the French air force to order two KC-130J to support its H225M fleet, until a solution is certified using a longer and stiffer hose design with a deployed length of 36.6m.

They also need to fully qualify the A400m for paratrooper delivery in accordance with specs. In June 2019, French A400m reached a milestone towards full paratrooper deployment capability in 2021 when it dropped 50 paratroopers from a side door in a single stick. The objective is to deliver 58 paratroopers from one side door in the upcoming weeks and then start working on dispatching paratroopers from both sides in 2020. The military’s requirement is for 116 paratroopers able to jump out of the aircraft in one dispatch. IIRC, the C-130J only delivers about 64 paratroopers in a single stick. The A400m’s delivery of 116, means an entire company can be air delivered in 1 stick. This will reduce the drop zone size and make command and control easier the paratroopers — when compared to using 2 aircraft to deliver 1 company.
 

John Fedup

The Bunker Group
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #53
I recall the Mark Francois comment, I believe this was at a Euro defence meeting awhile back. IMHO, the engine problem requires replacement with turbofans, cheaper and likely faster. This would result altered performance characteristics but at availability rates would improve from the appalling 10% reported by the RAF.
 

Vulcan

Member
But with a turbofan solution you lose a large amount of the rough-strip capabilities you get with a turboprop, so it depends on what the customer wants. Sure, they may get 70%+ availability, but if they can't transport equipment into the bases you want them to, then you may as well not have them at all.

I say grit teeth and get the problems sorted out.
 

John Fedup

The Bunker Group
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #55
The engine issue is way past horrible now. I agree, there will be capability loss going with turbofans. The A400M with turbofans would become a smaller C-17 for strategic lift and air forces would have to add Hercs for tactical lift, something some A400M users are already doing.
 

Vulcan

Member
Trouble is, would design/test/qual/cert of a turbofan A400M be much quicker and/or cheaper than simply fixing what is there? Who's going to front the cash for that campaign?

I was under the impression that the issues are known and there's an Airbus-funded routemap in overhauling and refiting the engines fairly soon? UK MOD i think spoke in terms of within the next 12 months.
 

John Fedup

The Bunker Group
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #57
These turbo shaft engines are massive and the largest ever built by a Western supplier. Clearly the project was very demanding and a lot of stuff had to be engineered by a consortium that had little experience building such huge turbo shafts. I guess they have another year to get things right. The question that comes to mind is would a turbo fan conversion begun a couple of years be up and certified one year from now.
 

Calculus

Well-Known Member
Maybe they should have selected the Pratt and Whitney Canada PW180s after all...

USA blasts A400M engine choice

Converting the A400 to turbofan power would not be trivial (or cheap!), and may not even be possible without a comprehensive redesign which would result in essentially a new airplane. Getting the current engines to work properly would seem to be the best use of resources.
 

Milne Bay

Active Member
Maybe they should have selected the Pratt and Whitney Canada PW180s after all...

USA blasts A400M engine choice

Converting the A400 to turbofan power would not be trivial (or cheap!), and may not even be possible without a comprehensive redesign which would result in essentially a new airplane. Getting the current engines to work properly would seem to be the best use of resources.
Europe selecting a euro engine is "blatant protectionism" - ah-ha
USA would never indulge in such things.
Look at all the US aircraft manufacturers lining up to put Euro engines on their aircraft - oh so funny
MB
 

ngatimozart

Super Moderator
Staff member
Verified Defense Pro
Maybe they should have selected the Pratt and Whitney Canada PW180s after all...

USA blasts A400M engine choice

Converting the A400 to turbofan power would not be trivial (or cheap!), and may not even be possible without a comprehensive redesign which would result in essentially a new airplane. Getting the current engines to work properly would seem to be the best use of resources.
I don't think that the conversion to turbofan would necessitate a major redesign at all. The wing sweep and design appears about right and they would only need to fit two turbofans.

But with a turbofan solution you lose a large amount of the rough-strip capabilities you get with a turboprop, so it depends on what the customer wants. Sure, they may get 70%+ availability, but if they can't transport equipment into the bases you want them to, then you may as well not have them at all.

I say grit teeth and get the problems sorted out.
Why would you lose rough strip capability with turbofans? The C-17 has rough strip capability, as do the KHI C-2 and KC-390. The only differences between a turboprop and a turbofan in this area are that a turbofan has higher potential for FOD due to ingestion of FOD from strip, however that can be mitigated, and turbofans accelerate slower than turboprops at the start. Otherwise there are no real reasons why a turbofan variant couldn't be viable across all capabilities that the current variant is advertised as having / will have.
 
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