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AERONAUTICS : INVESTIGATION INTO FRENCH AID TO SKYLANDER.

The European Commission opened this month an investigation (stage one) into state aid to GECI International related to its future aircraft, Skylander SK-105.

The EU executive plans to take a closer look at French aid allegedly paid to the company that will produce at low cost this future light turboprop aircraft capable of carrying 19 passengers. No aid has been notified to the Commission. Under EU state aid rules, the executive must be informed of plans to pay public subsidies to private companies in order to determine whether they might distort competition in the EU.

If the Commission concludes that an aid payment is illegal, it can order the member state to recover the funds.

The French government had announced the release of a 60 million package for the development of Skylander. The Lorraine region, which supports the aircraft manufacturer based on its territory, has made repayable cash advances totalling just over 21 million. The term of payment for these advances is 30 November. Private investors have also contributed capital to GECI.

"We are going to answer any questions asked of us," commented Jean-Pierre Masseret, president of the Lorraine Regional Council. He added: "We have made all payments in the form of repayable advances. We are not trying to distort competition".

GECI International says it has no information on the Commission's investigation. There are concerns that it may be deprived of part of the funds needed to manufacture 40 aircraft ordered by Russia's Aviamost under a contract that is currently being finalised.

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Publication:European Report
Date:Feb 17, 2012
Words:252
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