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Airbus A400M takes maiden flight

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Airbus A400M takes maiden flight

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Europe’s new military transport plane, the Airbus A400M, has had its maiden three-hour flight near Seville in Spain.

Experts, however, say talks to prevent the multi-billion euro project from collapsing will resume almost straight away.

The plane, commissioned by seven European NATO countries, has been dogged by delays and cost overruns.

Some 180 aircraft have been sold to Britain, France, Germany, Spain, Belgium, Luxembourg and Turkey. Four others are earmarked for Malaysia, but South Africa has cancelled an order.

The parent company of Airbus, EADS, maintains it is not responsible for part of the cost overruns, reported to be about five billion euros.

Experts say a proposed compromise backed by several buyers could result in a higher price per plane. They say this would allow Airbus to deliver fewer planes under the original budget of 20 billion euros.