Photo Gallery The A400M Takes Flight

It will be another three years before the first Airbus military transport plane A400M is delivered. But Friday saw the behemoth take to the skies for the first time. The project, however, is overshadowed by budget overruns.
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The A400M military transport plane took off into the blue skies over Sevilla, Spain on in mid-December for its maiden voyage.

Foto: BERTRAND GUAY/ AFP
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The plane's first flight was originally scheduled to take place two years ago. But technical problems have dogged the project almost since its inception.

Foto: CRISTINA QUICLER/ AFP
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The project was supposed to cost €20 billion. But overruns and delays mean that Airbus now has to find an additional €5 billion with some reports going as high as €11 billion.

Foto: CRISTINA QUICLER/ AFP
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Airbus would like its customers, which include Germany, France and Great Britain, among other European countries, to help cover the cost overruns. Germany has so far not shown much interest in the idea.

Foto: ddp
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Airbus argues that many of the cost overruns came about as a result of European insistance that the project be an entirely European one. In an interview in December, Airbus Military head Domingo Urena-Raso said that cheaper parts could have been purchased from suppliers outside of the European Union.

Foto: Miguel Angel Morenatti/ AP
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Originally, Germany wanted 73 of the transport planes, which have a capacity twice that of the C-130 Hercules cargo planes used by the US Air Force. But Berlin has since cut its order to 60 planes.

Foto: CRISTINA QUICLER/ AFP
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The cargo plane will have a range of some 6,400 kilometers (4,000 miles).

Foto: ddp
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To ultimately be profitable, Airbus will have to double the amount of orders for the A400M currently on the books.

Foto: MARCELO DEL POZO/ REUTERS
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So far buyers outside of Europe have been hard to find. South Africa cancelled an order for eight of the planes, leaving Malaysia's request for four A400Ms as the only order from outside Europe and Turkey.

Foto: MARCELO DEL POZO/ REUTERS
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