Czech-based company Aero Vodochody has delivered three L-39ZA Albatros aircraft after a two-year overhaul to Kano, Nigeria.
Ordered by the Nigerian Army, the upgrade involves an Electronic Flight Instrument System to display flight data in the aircraft’s cockpit.
The planes will assist operators in training with a fully-digital capability before flying the army’s JF-17 Thunder combat fleet.
Nigeria is the fifth customer to opt for the complete repair and update of aging L-39 Albatros planes.
Aero is now collaborating with the same customers to purchase its latest L-39NG aircraft following the completion of initial certifications.
According to the company, the delivery was unique and challenging “due to the long distance and difficult weather conditions.”
Aero pilots flew the modernized planes for four days in a 5,000-kilometer (3,107 miles) route from the Czech Republic to Africa.
“The standard is that the aircraft are delivered to the customer in disassembled condition,” explained Vladan Resner, Regional Sales Director at Aero Vodochody.
“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.”
Each pilot spent about 13 hours in the air, resting in Spain, France, Algeria, and Niger.
“Flights on their own axis are much more demanding organizationally, especially in terms of logistics and the requirements for coordination of individual activities,” Resner said.
“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.”
“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,” Aero Vodochody Test Pilot Vladimír Továrek said.
“Despite this inconvenience, we managed everything and successfully handed over the aircraft to the customer.”