Timeline: Fraught journey of A400M transport aircraft

BERLIN (Reuters) - The A400M air troop transporter has had a complicated history. Here are the key events in the long-delayed project:

1982 -- Aerospatiale, British Aerospace, Lockheed and MBB set up a project -- later known as the Future Large Aircraft (FLA) -- to develop a troop transporter to replace the C-130 Hercules and the Transall C-160.

1989 -- Lockheed pulls out of developing an upgrade to its own C-130 Hercules transporter.

1999 -- Partners including BAE Systems, Daimler Chrysler Aerospace (Dasa), France’s Aerospatiale Matra and Spain’s Casa establish Airbus Military Company to develop the A400M.

2000 -- Airbus says it will start the industrial phase of the A400M project by March 2001; first deliveries are expected in 2007.

June 2001 -- Eight countries -- Germany, France, Spain, Britain, Turkey, Belgium, Portugal and Luxembourg -- sign an initial letter of intent to buy 196 A400Ms.

November 2001 -- Germany calls off official signing ceremony for the project due to a parliamentary confidence motion over German plans to deploy troops in Afghanistan.

December 2001 -- Seven nations agree to buy the A400M, though plans still hinge on German parliamentary approval.

February 2003 -- Italy and Portugal cancel orders for the A400M.

May 2003 -- Airbus bows to government pressure to appoint a European consortium to build new engines for the A400M, reversing a decision to buy from Pratt & Whitney Canada.

May 2003 -- Germany’s parliament approves the purchase of 60 A400Ms, cut from 73, removing the final hurdle for the project.

December 2004 -- South Africa orders 8 A400Ms.

DEC. 2005 -- Malaysia orders 4 A400Ms.

March 2007 -- Airbus takes 352 million euro ($508.6 million) charge to cushion A400M overruns.

November 2007 -- EADS warns it sees charges of up to 1.4 billion euros from A400M delays.

September 2008 -- EADS postpones first flight of A400M indefinitely in row over engine development.

January 2009 -- Airbus chief Thomas Enders says the A400M project is “mission impossible” without contract changes.

July 2009 -- The European ordering nations agree to renegotiate the cost and scale of the project.

November 2009 -- South Africa cancels its A400M order.

December 2009 -- Germany confirms the A400M project is 5 billion euros over its production budget.

December 11, 2009 -- Reuters reports auditors have identified 11 billion euros of total cost overruns.

January 20, 2010 -- A leaked draft summary of the audit report by PricewaterhouseCoopers blames Airbus managers for huge cost overruns on A400M.

February 4, 2010 -- More talks held in Berlin between EADS and seven NATO nations to resolve the funding dispute.

February 24, 2010 -- Spanish defense minister Carme Chacon says EADS and government buyers have reached the “basis of an agreement” for a 3.5 billion euro bail-out, including 2 billion euros of direct aid and 1.5 billion in financial support.

March 5, 2010 -- A deal is struck to save the project from collapse. The agreement aims to preserve 10,000 jobs but will force EADS to take 1.8 billion euros of provisions for its share of the overrun, pushing the company to an operating and net loss for 2009.

-- German Defense Ministry says the first deliveries of the A400M should now happen in 2014.

March 29, 2010 -- Britain says it will trim its order for the A400M to 22 from 25 to finance its share of an agreed increase in the price of the project.

June 1 -- EADS CEO Louis Gallois says two planes in testing are providing good results and that two more should enter testing this year.

Writing by Maria Sheahan; Additional writing by David Cutler, London Editorial Reference Unit; Editing by Simon Robinson and Sara Ledwith