Aero provides aircraft overhauls and upgrades for customers on various continents. After two years of overhaul, three L-39ZA Albatros aircraft from Aero went to Nigeria, flying on their axis to their home base in Kano. This method of delivering the aircraft to the customer is quite unique and the flight was also challenging due to the long distance and difficult weather conditions. It took the Aero test pilots – Vladimir Tovarkov, Vytautas Požel, and Radovan Cingel – four days to make the 5,000-kilometre journey from Vodochody to Kano, Nigeria, with each pilot spending 13 hours in the air. Stopovers were made in Dijon (France), Valencia (Spain), Ghardaie (Algeria), Tamanrasset (Algeria) and Agadez (Niger). One of the direct participants also commented aptly on the difficulty and unpredictability of the crossing. “The last leg of the journey to Kano Airport in Nigeria was marked by deteriorating weather, with the airport surrounded by thunderstorms and the landing itself taking place in very heavy rain at virtually the last possible moment. Despite this inconvenience, we managed everything and successfully handed over the aircraft to the customer,” adds Vladimír Továrek, Aero Vodochody test pilot.
“The standard is that the aircraft are delivered to the customer in disassembled condition. Once reassembled, our pilots will arrive on site, conduct a practice sortie of the aircraft and then a handover flight with the customer’s representative. Flights on their own axis are much more demanding organizationally, especially in terms of logistics and the requirements for coordination of individual activities. Not only is it necessary to arrange permission for military aircraft to fly over the territory of all states, but also to provide additional support, such as escort aircraft with crew and mechanics, fuel and oxygen supply at all stops, or to ensure the safety of the crew during stopovers. All of this requires the perfect synergy of the entire team of experts not only from AERO but also from other external institutions, which in this case worked perfectly,” said Vladan Resner, Regional Sales Director of AERO, responsible for this project.
The Nigerian Army aircraft arrived in the Czech Republic in July 2020, when an Antonov An-124 transport aircraft picked them up from their home base in Kano and transported them to Pardubice Airport. Subsequently, overhaul and modernization work began on them at the Aero hangars. The Nigerian aircraft are newly equipped with an EFIS system that digitally displays flight information on the cockpit and a heads-up display. With these enhancements, pilots can train in a fully digital cockpit before they sit in the cockpit of the JF-17 fighter aircraft. Nigeria is the fifth foreign customer in recent years to opt for the overhaul and complete modernization of older L-39 Albatros aircraft. Aero has also been working closely with these customers on the future purchase of the latest L-39NG aircraft, which has successfully passed the necessary certifications, and sales to other countries are no longer hindered.
AERO Vodochody AEROSPACE a.s. focuses on the development, production, maintenance, and improvement of civil and military aircraft and is the largest aircraft manufacturer in the Czech Republic and one of the oldest aircraft manufacturers in the world. In the field of own aircraft, Aero is a permanent partner of a number of military air forces and has a strong position in the market for military trainer and light combat aircraft. With 11,000 aircraft produced in its 100 years of existence, hundreds of L-39 Albatros aircraft still in service with dozens of military operators and a number of demo teams, and especially with its new L-39NG aircraft, Aero has established itself as a leader in the global jet trainer market. In the civil aviation sector, Aero works with major aircraft manufacturers on a wide range of projects and is a partner in several risk-sharing programs, where it is responsible not only for the manufacture and assembly of aircraft assemblies but also for their development.