Page last updated at 15:54 GMT, Friday, 27 November 2009

Airbus sets test flight date for delay-hit A400M

A400M transporter
The A400M was originally due to enter service this year

Airbus says its long-delayed A400M military transport aircraft should make its first test flight during the week beginning 7 December.

The European aerospace giant said the test flight would go ahead "weather permitting".

The A400M was designed to replace ageing military cargo carriers in several European air forces.

However, a series of technical problems have dogged the project and led to the delays.

The aircraft was due to enter service with air forces this year, but this has now been put back to 2013.

Amid growing concern, French and German officials have given the firm until the end of the year to prove that the project remains viable.

Earlier this month, South Africa cancelled a multi-billion dollar contract for eight A400Ms, citing escalating costs and delivery delays.

The deal for the planes was signed a number of years ago, when the proposed cost was significantly less.

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