Czech aircraft manufacturer Aero Vodochody will pay the country's ministry of defence a fine of around Ckr750 million ($28 million)for the late delivery of its L-159 subsonic fighters. The payment is part of an agreement signed to end a long-running dispute between the company and the ministry.

"The last of the 72 L-159s that had been ordered by the Czech air force was delivered a year and a month later than it should have been under the 1997 contract," says Aero vice-president for sales and marketing Viktor Kucera. "Such a delay, however, is within world norms, if you consider that the contract was signed more than a year before the first prototype went up into the air," he adds.

According to the defence ministry's Ladislav Sticha, the dispute centred on how large a fine the airframe manufacturer would be liable for. "The issue eventually had to be resolved by independent arbitration," he says.

Aircraft deliveries were behind schedule because both development and production of the aircraft was taking place more or less at the same time to cut costs, says Kucera.

The penalty payment will not have an impact on Aero's annual financial results, according to Kucera, as the company had already created reserves for the charge within its accounting system.

The Czech air force currently operates 71 L-159s, with one production example having been lost during a crash. "All the L-159s are being used to their full extent during the training of pilots," says Sticha. "The only limits are financial, resulting from our [modest operating] budget."


Source: Flight International