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October 14, 2009

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Airbus aims to get A400M in the air

AIRBUS reaffirmed plans to get the delayed A400M military transport plane flying by the end of the year as it announced a raft of management changes yesterday.

The plane maker's military division said it had named a new head of engineering as part of a shake-up of positions by the head of Airbus Military, Domingo Urena.

Miguel Angel Morell, the new head of engineering and technology, was previously in charge of Airbus military derivatives and is seen as a key player in efforts by parent EADS to build and sell aerial refueling tankers.

The move comes as EADS, in partnership with Northrop Grumman, faces a new US$35 billion competition against Boeing to sell mid-air tankers to the United States Air Force.

Airbus Military builds the A400M and the MRTT mid-air refueling tanker.

The maiden flight of the A400M has been delayed by two years due to engine and software development problems, forcing EADS to renegotiate the 20-billion-euro (US$29.5 billion) contract with the seven European countries that first ordered the plane.

"Airbus Military is getting ready for some important milestones such as the A400M first flight, the first A330 MRTT deliveries and the US tanker competition," the firm said.


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