Europe’s largest defence project – the much delayed Airbus A400M military transport plane – has been saved, for the moment.A crisis meeting has agreed to a request from Airbus’ parent, EADS, to renegotiate the cost and scale of the programme. Defence ministers from Nato members Germany, France, Britain, Belgium, Luxembourg, Spain and Turkey reached the agreement. The meeting was called because the countries that had ordered planes are concerned about major delays and cost overruns. More than 4,000 jobs are at stake in the 20 billion euro programme and EADS would be ruined if it were cancelled as the aerospace company would have to repay the 5.7 billion euros spent so far; it’s already facing penalties. The plane is supposed to replace ageing US-made Lockheed C-130 Hercules transports but it is at least four years behind schedule due to engine development problems.
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