Defense News ~ BERLIN January 23, 2010, (Reuters) - Technical problems caused an engine to be disengaged during the maiden flight of the Airbus A400M last month, but at no time was the flight in danger, a company spokeswoman said on Saturday.
German magazine Spiegel had earlier reported that a computer and its backup system on the military transport plane failed after 30 minutes of flight, causing the engine to be automatically disengaged. The magazine cited documents from engine maker Europrop.
"Safety was not compromised," the spokeswoman from Airbus Military (Paris:EAD.PA - News) said, adding that it was normal for problems to be raised during test flights.
The A400M's maiden flight on December 11 was two years behind schedule following delays in engine development and other snags that manufacturers blame partly on political interference.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy said late on Friday that he may address the future of the project directly with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The two are due to hold a regular bilateral summit in Paris on February 4.
"There's progress," Sarkozy told journalists on Friday, adding however that he had not spoken to Merkel about the issue during a phone call on Thursday.
"We both hope that our defense ministers will talk about it, and if they are not successful, we will talk about it to each other," he said.
Europe's largest defense project, the A400M has been ordered by Germany, France, Britain, Spain, Belgium, Luxembourg and Turkey, has been about 25 years in the making, and has become far more expensive to make than had initially been anticipated.
Talks taking place in Berlin over a possible rescue package for the troop plane ended in stalemate on Friday with no new proposals, after Airbus and buyer nations failed to narrow glaring differences over who should pay for the extra costs.
The parties have agreed to keep negotiating to try to reach a deal by January 31.
(Reporting by Brian Rohan and Kerstin Doerr; Editing by Toby Chopra)
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