Warplanes: December 14, 2001


The Czech Republic has grounded its L159 Light Attack Trainer aircraft after investigating two crashes. Czech Defense Minister Jaroslav Tvrdik said that aircraft was "proving to be unreliable and prone to malfunction". He went on to say that the L159 "appears to be more dangerous to those operating it rather than to any potential enemy". The two crashes were caused when the "glass cockpit" instrument systems failed, leaving the pilots to try to land by eye. An investigation showed that this problem was caused by a fundamental flaw in the design of the aircraft. Tvrdik complained, bitterly, that the huge cost of the L159 program has forced other cutbacks, and that the government paid the entire cost of the program in advance (it has received only 24 of the 72 aircraft on order) in a desperate bid to keep Aero Vodochody from bankruptcy, a bid that may have failed. He noted that the company still has not turned over all of the documentation on the aircraft, which has impeded training.--Stephen V Cole


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