PARIS — Airbus says the company has moved a senior manager to help the troubled A400M program amid reports of tension between the airlifter's prime contractor and engine supplier Safran.
"We confirm that Michael Menking, currently (head of) Earth observation, navigation and science in Airbus Defence and Space, will be the new (head of) A400M program from March 1," an Airbus Defence and Space spokesman said.
Menkin takes over from Kurt Rossner, who has been named head of combat aircraft, the spokesman said.
Rossner succeeds Alberto Gutierrez, who becomes deputy to Fernando Alonso, head of military aircraft. Eurofighter Typhoon is the core program in the military aircraft unit.
The transfer of Rossner was a routine move, as managers are generally moved on after two or three years in a given post, Airbus DS said.
Meanwhile, French engine builder Safran has declined to help Airbus' attempts to persuade the client nations to put a cap on penalties for late delivery of the military transport plane.
"We have fulfilled our commitments," Safran managing director Philippe Petitcolin said Feb. 24, business paper Les Echos reported. "We have no intention to go any further. We stick to the contract, no more than the contract."
There were discussions between Airbus and Safran, but those had failed to lead to an agreement, an industry executive said.
Safran is the French partner on the TP-400 turboprop aeroengine, teamed with Rolls-Royce of Britain, MTU Aero Engines of Germany and Industria de Turbo Propulsores, the Spanish unit of Rolls-Royce. Those firms comprise the industrial consortium Europrop International.
Airbus last week sent a letter to six client nations and OCCAR, the European procurement agency, seeking an agreement that would lighten the penalties for late delivery of military capabilities on the aircraft.
Sending that letter was marred by the fact it was written solely in English, with the absence of a French version, business weekly Challenges reported.
Maybe just a small detail but it was "not very elegant when they are asking for more money," a defense official said, according to the report.
French Defence Ministry officials were not immediately available for comment.
The Direction Générale de l’Armement French procurement office on Feb. 23 declined comment on the Airbus letter from Chairman Denis Ranque and CEO Tom Enders.
Problems on the TP400 engine led to Airbus reporting Feb. 22 a 2016 charge of €2.2 billion (U.S. $2.3 billion), reflecting the financial penalties.