Airbus hit by fresh delays to troubled military transport

Europe's delayed and over-budget military transport plane suffered a further setback yesterday when manufacturer Airbus was forced to curtail its debut appearance at the Paris air show.

The Airbus A400M military aircraft suffered a gearbox problem in one of its turbo-props a few days ago and organisers revealed the plane would now be unable to perform a display at the show.

The troop plane, bailed out with €3.5 billion (3.1bn) by purchasing nations last year, will instead do a flypast to mark the show's opening today but will then be put on display instead of delivering a longer flying demonstration. It has been developed at a cost of more than €20bn for Britain, Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Spain and Turkey.

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Airbus has also confirmed plans to delay availability of some of its A350 aircraft to allow time to develop a bigger engine with Rolls-Royce, opening up a second front in a market share battle with arch rival Boeing.

Rolls-Royce will increase the thrust on its Trent XWB engine for the A350-1000 model to 97,000 pounds from 93,000, marking the biggest engine ever to power an Airbus. The European planemaker is bowing to customer demand for a more effective challenge to Boeing's 777-300ER.

The news came as Intercontinental, the new elongated passenger version of Boeing's traditional 747 jumbo jet, made its international debut yesterday by landing at the Paris airshow site.