LONDON (AP) — The joint venture making the Eurofighter plane said Wednesday that it was managing a problem discovered with the fuselage after Germany's military suspended deliveries of the plane.
Chief Executive Alberto Gutierrez said in a statement that the consortium was aware of the quality issue in the manufacturing process in the assembly of the plane, also called Typhoon.
The German military said late Tuesday the error involves drill holes on the rear of the planes' fuselage and results from insufficient sanding-down by manufacturer BAE Systems. It said it isn't clear what effects that might have on the planes' longevity and, as a result, the plane makers took the precaution of cutting their authorized life span from 3,000 to 1,500 flying hours.
"We would like to make clear that this issue does not affect flight safety," Gutierrez said.
The German military says the manufacturing error has no consequences for the Eurofighter's current safety and deployment.
It says, however, that Germany won't accept further deliveries of Eurofighters until "the commercial aspects are cleared up."
Eurofighter GmbH is the joint venture between BAE, Airbus and Alenia Aermacchi.
Germany, the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, Austria, Saudi Arabia and Oman have ordered the fighter, an advanced multi-role combat aircraft. The consortium described the program as being the largest military procurement project in Europe.
No other country besides Germany has halted deliveries so far, BAE Systems said.
BAE said in a statement that it continues to deliver aircraft "in accordance with contractual requirements and in line with the schedule required" by the UK Royal Air Force and the Royal Saudi Air Force."
Edward Hunt, an expert on Eurofighter for IHS Jane's, said that while this sort of thing happens with aircraft, he couldn't recall a previous issue with the Typhoon fleet, which he described as very reliable.