Czech police are calling on US helicopter manufacturer Sikorsky to assist with their investigation into former Aero Vodochody president Petr Hora, who is accused by the Czech government of breach of trust leading to a million dollars' worth of damage to the state-owned company.

Leading prosecutor Frantisek Krejcí says he will ask the US company to hear some witnesses and secure documentary evidence, but he declines to reveal whether the witnesses in question would be Sikorsky representatives or what type of documents he is seeking. Krejcí does concede, however, that Sikorsky should probably have been approached earlier in the 18-month investigation.

Hora was charged by the police early in 2005 for having deliberately signed a disadvantageous contract with Sikorsky six years ago to make components for the S-76C+. He is accused of depriving Aero of around CKr2.4 billion ($107 million) by making a loss of up to CKr20 million on each helicopter. If found guilty Hora, who was Aero president between December 1999 and May 2001, could be imprisoned for up to eight years.

Aero has since agreed a more favourable contract with Sikorsky. "The last helicopter made for the Americans in 2004 was the first that we actually made a profit on," says Aero. Since then, it adds, the volume of production has been rising by 10% each year.

Source: Flight International