EADS head wants A400M contracts signed in next month

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The head of European aerospace group EADS, in an interview appearing Saturday, said he hoped to secure contracts with clients for the A400M military transporter in the next month.

But Louis Gallois, chief executive of the European Aeronautic Defence and Space company, acknowledged that the troubled A400M program still faced "technical challenges."

"In early March we signed an agreement in principle with the seven A400M client countries," Gallois told the French journal Investir.

"It's now a question of transforming it into a contract ... No country has indicated it wanted to reconsider the agreement. I would hope the contract could be wrapped up before the summer."

The seven countries, after tense negotiations in the face of production difficulties with the A400M, reached an agreement in March with EADS on sharing out 5.2 billion euros (6.4 billion dollars) in cost over-runs.

The first A400M, manufactured by EADS aircraft unit Airbus, is expected to be delivered to France in early 2013.

"Test flights are going well but there remain real technical challenges to overcome between now and the first delivery in 2013," Gallois told Investir.

The six other client countries are Germany, Spain, Britain, Belgium, Luxembourg and Turkey.

Gallois also said the production pace of another problem-plagued EADS aircraft, the A380 superjumbo, had improved, and the objective remained to deliver 20 of the planes this year.

© 2010 AFP

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