PARIS, Feb 24 (Reuters) - The chief of European aerospace and defence group EADS EAD.PA replaced the head of its Airbus Military division, which has been dogged by delays to the 20 billion-euro ($25.6 billion) A400M military airlifter programme.
Domingo Urena-Raso, 50, currently leading the key Power 8 cost-cutting programme at planemaker Airbus, will take charge of the unit, becoming a member of the executive committees of EADS and Airbus as well as chairman of Spanish arm EADS CASA.
Predecessor Carlos Suarez “will be offered a senior position consistent with his extensive experience in the coming days,” EADS said in a statement, adding that EADS Chief Executive Louis Gallois had proposed Suarez’ replacement.
EADS in December announced it was merging its military transport assets into its Airbus civil planemaker unit to bring the troubled A400M programme under one roof.
The building of the A400M had previously been managed by EADS’ Spanish-based military transport division, and the head of Toulouse-based Airbus, Tom Enders, had not been in direct control of the project. Urena-Raso will report to Enders.
The A400M was ordered in 2003 by seven European NATO countries to provide airlift for combat zones such as Afghanistan and for humanitarian missions from 2009. The project has been hit by a row over engine delays, which could lead to severe financial penalties levied against EADS.
A French Senate report said this month that the project was already effectively four to five years late because of the time needed to build up a meaningful fleet of operational aircraft.
EADS has taken provisions for over 1.7 billion euros for the delays and is negotiating with European governments led by France, Germany and Britain to ease the delivery penalties.
EADS said in the statement on Tuesday that technical aeronautical engineer Urena-Raso had “greatly contributed” to the Power 8 programme, designed to turn around Airbus after it posted losses and was hurt by delays to its A380 superjumbo. (Reporting by James Regan, editing by Dave Zimmerman)