Nigerian L-39ZAs return home

Three Nigerian Air Force L-39ZAs, which have been at Aero Vodochody for two years were flown back to Kano air base, home to the 403 Flying Training School (TFS) last week.

The three Nigerian L-39ZAs prepare to depart Aero on July 17 for the three-day flight to Kano air base in Nigeria. (Image: Alan Warnes)

They arrived at their destination three days later after departure on July 20, after several stops en-route including Valencia (Spain) and Agadez (Mali).

The trio, NAF 350, NAF 358 and NAF 366 were supported by technicians and other personal onboard a civilian Czech Pilatus PC-12.

It was very unusual to fly the aircraft back to the customer, as in the recent past deliveries have always taken place by Il-76 or Antonov-124 which is how the aircraft arrived in Pardubice, before being transported by road the hour or so to the Aero factory at Odolena Voda on July 1, 2020.

Since their arrival, they have been taken apart, stripped of all components which were either replaced or revitalised while their old analogue cockpit systems were replaced by a  GenesyS IDU 680 integrated electronic flight instrument system (EFIS) and a Czech made Speel Head Up Display. This will now allow student pilots to transition to types like the three Sino-Pak JF-17 Thunders that were delivered in May 2021.

The work was completed by Aero engineers and technicians which worked alongside a small Nigerian Air Force team, during the worst of the COVID pandemic, causing the original delivery timeline to slip considerably.

Aero Vodochody has already returned three L-39ZAs of nine available, to service at Kano in 2019, although they were not overhauled.