Reuters International

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany has grounded two of its three A400M military transport planes delivered by Airbus Group SE due to newly discovered gearbox issues on their turboprop engines, a spokesman for the German defence ministry said on Thursday.

Airbus, Europe's largest aerospace company, is already due to replace one of the four engines on the first aircraft in coming days, the ministry said. The problem with the second aircraft was discovered on Thursday, it said, confirming news first reported by Germany's Spiegel magazine.

Kieran Daly, spokesman for Airbus Defense and Space, said the company was working with Germany to address the issues.

"We confirm that two of the three German A400M aircraft have newly been discovered to have suffered the propeller gearbox cracking problem, and we will support the customer in addressing that," Daly told Reuters.

He declined to say how many of the 27 A400M troop and cargo carriers delivered by Airbus thus far had been affected by the issue, which involves a power gearbox made by General Electric's Italian unit Avio Aero.

European authorities mandated inspections after every 20 flight hours after the gearbox cracking was discovered earlier this year.

German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen last month said the ministry would exercise its right to compensation for delays in deliveries of the A400M. Germany has only received three of the 53 A400M planes it has ordered.

Airbus secured a 3.5 billion euro bailout for the A400M project from six nations in 2010 but deliveries have been delayed due to the gearbox glitches and other technical problems.

German defence ministry sources said negotiations were still under way with Airbus about compensation payments.

(Reporting by Sabine Siebold and Andrea Shalal writing by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Dominic Evans)

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