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Aero Vodochody

Aero Vodochody a.s. is the largest aerospace manufacturer in the Czech Republic, mainly focusing on cooperation with leading aerospace manufacturers in international aerostructures projects – Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation (S-76C helicopter), Alenia Aeronautica (C-27J Spartan center wing box), Sonaca (Bombardier CSeries Fixed Leading Edge Development & Production), Latecoere (Embraer 170/190 subassemblies), Saab (JAS-39 Gripen pylons), Spirit Aerosystems (B767 fixed leading edge kits), EADS (A320/340 subassemblies), etc. The Military Program of Aero is historically the largest producer of jet training aircraft and a partner to several air forces, particularly the Czech Air Force.

AERO Vodochody a.s., based in Odolena Voda, Dolínek, U Letište 374, 250 70, Czech Republic, is a joint-stock company registered in the Companies Register maintained by the Municipal Court in Prague, Section B, File 449 on January 2, 1991, Identification number: 00010545, VAT: CZ00010545. The sole shareholder of the Company was private equity group Penta Investments.

The Prague-based company was acquired in 2021 by Hungarian company HSC Aerojet, which is owned by Hungarian businessman Kristof Szalay-Bobrovniczky. Hungary’s ambassador to the UK, Kristof Szalay-Bobrovniczky, set up a pro-government news agency in London in April 2019. The news agency, called V4NA, will focus on the V4 countries (Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland), as well as the rest of the Central and Eastern European region. Arpad Habony, the spin doctor of Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán, has a 40 per cent take in the agency, while pro-government outlet New Wave Media Group has taken a 57 per cent stake.

Before being appointed Hungarian Ambassador to London by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, Kristóf was variously a management consultant, marketing executive, on the board of private equity funds, the executive vice president of the largest and oldest Hungarian think-tank, the publisher of a leading Hungarian political weekly magazine and competed in competitive show-jumping. He is a is a captain in the reserves of the Hungarian Army and now splits his time between Budapest and London.

The company that owns licenses to operate casinos in Hungary, now also co-owned by Szalay-Bobrovniczky. Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban’s government has extended one of his main supporter’s Budapest casino licences until 2056. The casino licences all belong to LVC Diamond. The company is owned by Istvan Garancsi, a construction magnate close to Orban, and Kristof Szalay-Bobrovniczky, the husband of government spokeswoman Alexandra Szentkiralyi. Like so many other recent economic steps, foundation, long-term contracts, multi-year personal appointments, this concession will take an important sector of the economy out of the control of the next governments.

Former business partner of Arpad Habony, chief advisor of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, Kristof Szalay-Bobrovniczky became the co-owner of Transmashholding Hungary in the summer of 2019, when he purchased 50% of its shares through Hungarian Rail Investment Assets Management, a company he set up shortly before the tender. The Russian party remained the other co-owner of Transmashholding Hungary. The multilateral financing agreement of the largest project in the history of Egyptian National Railways (ENR) for the supply of 1300 passenger coaches manufactured by the Russian industrial group TMH worth over 1 billion Euro entered into force 20 April 2020. The CEO of TMH, Kirill Lipa: “The Egyptian project is among our top priorities. Not only it complements our expertise andambitions,contributes to bilateral relations of Russia with Egypt and Hungary, helps expand Russian businesses’ international presence, but it also contributes to the development of the Russian transport industry”. Figures with high-level political links then appeared gradually around the contract-winning Transmashholding Hungary.

Aerostructures Programs

Aero participates in the entire life cycle of civil and military projects, from development to industrialization and validation of products, combining experience in aerospace production dating back to 1919 with every-day practice within running serial production, utilizing the latest technology and test methods. Aero has the competence to design and produce complex aerostructures with a high degree of product finalization. This includes systems integration and testing, full control of quality, full supply chain management and complex customer support starting from the production transfer phase, through implementation of customer's requirements during the production phase to after-sales support.

MRO & Defence

MRO & Defence division provides a grant tradition, quality and reliability built on 90 years experience in the OEM and Aftermarket business. Aero Vodochody is EASA certified organization for Part-23/25 aircraft and provide a complete portfolio of services for civil and military programs, ranging from aircraft development, production, through sales up to the RMUs, MROs and logistics support. A wide range of FBO services also represent an important part of our business.

Aero Vodochody has 1,350 employees, with about 100 experienced in-house engineers in the division of MRO & Defence. Aero Vodochody's „strike team“ of engineers is available to support in the field. Besides its own airfield with 2,400 meter long runway, it also possess new hangars, certified testing room, paintshop, and training center.

Aero Vodochody is the manufacturer of over 11,000 civil and military airplanes. Besides our existing programs, Aero Vodochody provided after-market services for platforms like Il-14 (Avia 14), Su-7b, or Mig-23. The primary focus lay in particular in the military systems. Having produced over 6,500 units, representing two thirds of the world production, Aero is historically the largest jet training aircraft producer in the world. The airplanes delivered to more than 30 countries.

Early History

Aero - továrna létadel (Aero - the aircraft factory) in Prague, has its roots in the period immediately following the creation of the independent Czechoslovak Republic in 1918. On January 11, 1919, a preliminary agreement establishing the new limited liability company was signed. The date of registration with the Companies Court - February 25, 1919 - can be considered as the founding date. The new company, which focused on production of aircraft, aircraft parts and aircraft repairs, was soon followed by two other companies - the state owned Letov and the private Avia. However, Aero was the strongest of the three for a long time considering the size of workforce as well as the production output.

After repairs of a number of imported aircraft types started, a prototype of the first in-house type (Aero A-1) was built in the Brandenburg shape. An order from the Ministry of Defense for series production of this test-proven military prototype soon followed. The new introductory type was designed for pilot training - a typical product of much more distant future!

More powerful training aircraft types followed, and after production had been moved to new facilities in the Prague district of Vysocany, the basis for a new family of reconnaissance, bomber and training biplanes was laid down by the Aero A-11 and A-12. Military pilots soon became famous for braking records and winning races in Aero aircraft. Aero, at that time a private enterprise owned by Dr. Vladimir Kabeš, became the main contractor for the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Public Works (civil aviation).

First foreign customers soon followed the suit, starting with Finland. Between the two world wars, Aero achieved a number of Czechoslovak firsts: the company built a prototype of the first indigenous fighter airplane, designed the first dedicated cabin transport aircraft, the first twin-engine aircraft, the first seaplane with indigenously designed floats, introduced a braced high-wing monoplane and also pioneered a practical design of a wooden cantilever wing structure. An important milestone was the first practical application of a flapped wing (in combination with automatic slat and roll control augmented by spoilers) in mid 1930s, and the use of retractable undercarriage on refined streamlined aircraft and hydraulically operated flaps before the World War II.

Significant manufacturing and technology advancements in all-metal structures came with the commencement of licensed manufacturing of the French Marcel Bloch and Soviet SB-2 twin-engine bombers in the second half of 1930s.

The enhanced capabilities of the company were fully utilized and later developed during the German occupation, when Aero produced stressed-skin semi-monocoque structures with full jigging for reconnaissance and training missions (Focke-Wulf Fw 189 and Siebel Si 204). Immediately after the war ended, the nationalized Aero continued in the production and repairs of aircraft. Modified German aircraft types were manufactured for the Czechoslovak Air Force as well as civil aviation. Shortly after the war, a new remarkable indigenous type had been introduced - the high-performance, twin-engine, all-metal Aero 45 four-seater.

In 1953, new facilities designed entirely for jet aircraft production were built in Vodochody and started operation in the same year. The production, in which several Czechoslovak aviation plants were involved, focused on a large-scale series production of MiG-15 aircraft built under a license and its derivatives. The supersonic MiG-19 and MiG-21 aircraft were manufactured by Aero through the 1960s and 1970s, paving the way in production capabilities to indigenous jet trainer programs - the L-29 Delfin and the L-39 Albatros.

In the second half of the 1950s, the need for jet trainer aircraft became more and more urgent. Concentrated efforts in developing an optimized airframe and indigenous jet engine within the Czechoslovak aircraft industry resulted in the maiden flight of the L-29 in 1959. The definitive step on Aero's way to mass production of jet trainers took place in Summer 1961 near Moscow: the L-29 Delfin won comparative testing of three different prototypes and was declared the most suitable trainer in Eastern Bloc countries. Production and deliveries continued smoothly for the ten following years, after which the second generation, a more powerful and more efficient L-39 had been developed. Production of the L-39 occupied Aero's workshops and assembly halls during 1970s and 1980s. A number of air forces around the world still utilize the excellent tutoring quality of this affordable airplane.

The L-39 Albatros family expanded considerably in the course of time, forming a perfect basis for further development. The advent of 1990s brought incorporation of Western avionics and standards as well as the use of more powerful American engines and global equipment, and with it a start of a new chapter in the life of the company.

In the 1990s, Aero commenced works on the multi-purpose aircraft type L270, which was intended to replace the Antonov An-2 forming the base of the fleet of utility aircraft of the countries of eastern block. Further development of the project was however limited and conditioned by workload of the employees of technical section and insufficiency of financial means allocated for this project.

In the second half of 1990s, Aero started to seek a partner for further continuation of the L270 project. This search was successfully crowned in the year 1997 by establishing the Ibis Aerospace Limited (IBIS) joint venture and by signature of the joint venture contract with the company Aerospace Industrial Development Corporation (AIDC) from Taiwan, both parties participating with 50%. The L270 aircraft was renamed the Ae 270. Successful maiden flight of the aircraft was performed in summer 2000. In the year 2005, the Ae 270 achieved the EASA Type Certificate and in 2006 the Type Certificate from the FAA.

AERO Vodochody a.s. is a joint stock company, registered in the Companies Register in Prague on January 2, 1991. Till the end of the year 2006, Aero was a state-owned company. From January 4, 2007, private equity group Penta became a sole shareholder of Aero and in the same year successfully finished its restructuring process, the main result of which was profit reached by Aero for 2007 in the amount of CZK 236 million. Aero thus entered the year 2008 as a stable and profitable company, ready to develop long-term partnerships with its customers.

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