Eurocopter has postponed its bid for Romanian helicopter manufacturer IAR Brasov, citing "legal, industrial and financial" issues. The Romanian Government has extended the bid deadline to 18 June, although local press reports suggest Eurocopter demanded a three-month delay.

The Franco-German joint venture is the only remaining bidder for a 70% stake in IAR, which Bucharest is attempting to sell for the third time. Bell Helicopter Textron dropped a bid last year after becoming exasperated by delays caused by government instability and funding problems. The deal would have seen up to 96 AH-1RO "Dracula"attack helicopters manufactured in Romania under licence.

Eurocopter says it has delayed its bid due to "ongoing talks regarding the legal, industrial and financial aspects" of the deal, claiming that negotiations are "going well, but nothing is frozen".

Eurocopter adds that if a deal is struck it may re-establish an SA330 Puma production line in Romania. It could also dust off plans, first mooted in 1997, to build single-engined AS350BAand twin-engined AS355NEcureuils in the country. IAR built 230 SA316B Alouette IIIs for Eurocopter partner Aerospatiale.

• Romania's Avioane is to build 24 IAR-99 Soim tandem-seat jet trainers for the Romanian air force. The aircraft will be equipped with avionics from Israel's Elbit Systems, while Romania's Aerostar is also involved in the programme. In 1998 Avioane received a contract to upgrade in-service Soims to a similar standard.

Source: Flight International