Asked when the handover would take place, he said, “Probably May (or) could be June. We had said earlier it will be in the second quarter.”
Developed at a cost of 20 billion euros, Europe’s military transport and heavy cargo plane has been hit by a five-year delay and cost overruns that led to a multinational bailout.
Airbus, a unit of European aerospace group EADS, has begun low-level discussions aimed at promoting the aircraft to India and hopes eventually to sell it to the United States.
“We think the A400M will be of interest to the Indian Air Force in due course,” Daly said.
“We are very confident the U.S. will buy the aircraft one way or another. But it could take years, not months. It will take a really long time.”
Airbus lost a $35 billion contest in 2011 to supply aerial tankers to the U.S. Air Force after a major duel with Boeing.
Analysts say the company is betting that recently launched plans to open a commercial jet assembly plant in Alabama will create both the industrial base and political support needed to support sales of aircraft to the U.S. military in the future.