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Thu 26 Apr 2007 03:04 PM

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Airbus military airlifter delayed

Technical review of all Airbus projects pushes A400M development three months behind schedule.

Development of the Airbus A400M military airlifter is three months behind schedule and could be delayed by up to a year, officials at aerospace supplier Zodiac told analysts on Thursday.

A spokesman for Airbus Military confirmed the company had decided to delay the formal start of A400M final assembly by "up to three months".

"The reason is partly due to the technical review conducted at the end of last year," the spokesman said, referring to a review of all Airbus projects initiated after costly delays to the A380 superjumbo project.

Most of Zodiac's exposure to the aircraft programme designed for seven European NATO nations begins in 2008/09, CEO Jean-Louis Gerondeau told analysts.

"There is little impact on us unless the programme slips by a year or so, which is probable," he added. "For now we have been notified of a three month delay."

The Airbus Military spokesman said final assembly was now expected to begin by the end of June, with the first flight seen in the first quarter of 2008 and deliveries beginning in 2009.

First metal was cut in January 2005 for the A400M, a military transport plane that has been ordered by seven European NATO nations as well as South Africa and Malaysia.

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