Three out of four engines of the Airbus A400M military cargo plane failed ahead of the tragic crash that killed four people last month in Seville, Spain, Airbus has announced.
Airbus, which is still investigating the incident, revealed the information after concluding a preliminary analysis of data retrieved from the plane’s black boxes.
According to Airbus, the three engines suffered what the aerospace firm calls ‘power frozen’ after take-off and didn’t respond to the pilots’ attempts to regain control.
The A400M eight-bladed turboprop was left struggling with only one engine running properly before it crashed into a pylon during an attempt to perform an emergency landing.
No other problems have been identified by the preliminary analysis.
A400M is Airbus’ newest and most advanced military cargo plane. Built together with Rolls Royce, Snecma, MTU and ITP, the craft was designed to replace older military cargo planes such as the Transall C-160 and the Lockheed Martin C-130 Hercules.
However, the project faced many delays and cost-overruns during the development and in 2010 was almost cancelled entirely. An intervention by European governments saved the project and the plane finally entered service in 2013.
Problems in delivering the planes on time with all the required military features on board resurfaced last year, triggering a management shake-up and more financial charges.
The crash, the first for A400M, resulted in existing fleets being grounded. It is believed the incident could cause further problems for Airbus, in the aftermath of the accident.
The plane that crashed on May 9 2015 was performing its first flight before delivery to Turkey. The six crew members aboard were Airbus employees.
Following the accident, Airbus sent a so-called Alert Operator Transmission notice to all operators of the airlifter, prompting them to perform checks of its Electronic Control Units before flying the aircraft again.
So far, six NATO nations - Britain, Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg and Turkey - have purchased A400Ms. The total order worth €20bn was the biggest single military contract for Airbus.
A400Ms, which sell for over €100m each, are assembled in Spain.