Airbus has confirmed the most negative scenario regarding faults in the reduction gear of the engine of the A400M military transport aircraft, as cracks have been found in all engines whose propellers rotate clockwise.
In extreme cases, these cracks in the engine’s Propeller Gear Box (PGB) could shed flakes of metal which then that pass into the oil cooling circuit. This is what happened earlier this year to a newly-delivered UK aircraft. (The PGB is made by the Italian company Avio, a subsidiary of US giant General Electric.)
That means that two of the four engines fitted to each of the 24 aircraft delivered to date – or a total 48 engines — must now be repaired, a much bigger task than initially anticipated.
“We are in daily conversations with our suppliers and customers to solve this problem in a standardized manner. We work with all our capabilities to meet the needs of our customers,” said Airbus sources.
Eight military customers have ordered 174 aircraft and, in addition to the 24 already delivered, this year Airbus expected to deliver 20 more, although so far only three have been received by customers. Spain should receive its first A400M this year, and that plane is a priority for Airbus, company sources say.
The next step is how to fix these problems on the A400M Final Assembly Line located in Seville, Spain. The problem is twofold: first, Europrop must repair the 48 engines that have already failed, and which are installed on the 24 aircraft already in operation. Secondly, it must at the same time produce modified engines for new aircraft that are being assembled.