The History of Aero
We are proud of our more than 100-year history. Read about the creation of a legendary aircraft, and how the company operated during historical milestones.
The beginnings. 1919 - 1921
The history of Aero began on the 25th of February 1919, just a few months after the creation of independent Czechoslovakia.
The new company, which focused on the production of aircraft and aircraft parts, as well as aircraft repairs, was soon followed by two more companies – state-owned enterprise Letov and private company Avia. However, for a long time Aero was the strongest of these three companies, both in terms of labour force and in production volume.
The Aero A-1, the first in-house built military training aircraft. The A-1 was designed for a two-person crew – the pilot in the front cockpit and an observer (or instructor) in the back. In 1919, the Ministry of Defence ordered 35 for pilot training for the Czechoslovak Army.
The A-10, the first in-house built civil transport aircraft. Structurally, it was based on the A-8 type. The two-person crew had to brave the elements in the open cockpit, while the five passengers below them could enjoy the relative luxury of a closed cabin.
Expansion. 1923 - 1938
A year after its foundation, Aero began building a factory on a green field in Vysočany, and it moved there in 1923. The company began manufacturing other types of aircraft, and became the main supplier for the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Public Works (civil aircraft). Deliveries to foreign countries such as Finland soon followed, too.
The A-11, a family of successful military biplanes (bombers and reconnaissance aircraft).
The De Havilland DH-50, a transport aircraft manufactured under British licence.
The first flight of the prototype of the A-23 transport biplane, with a radial air-cooled engine, took place on the 20th of October 1927. Its serial units served the Czechoslovak Army successfully for many years.
The A-34 “Blackbird”, the first of a family of light sports and training biplanes
The A-100, a family of military biplanes (bombers and reconnaissance aircraft)
The MB-200, an all-metal bomber manufactured under French licence (Marcel Bloch)
The A-304, a twin-engine low-wing military aircraft
The A-300, a twin-engine low-wing bomber
War production. 1938 - 1945
The company’s expanded capabilities were fully utilised and later developed during the German occupation, when Aero produced fully equipped half-shell, carrier-skinned structures for reconnaissance and training tasks (Focke-Wulf Fw 189 and Siebel Si 204).
Domestic jet trainers. (Post-war production and the first jets.) 1945 - 1968
Immediately after the end of the war, the now-nationalised Aero continued to manufacture and repair aircraft. Modified German aircraft types were produced for the Czech air force as well as for civil aviation. Shortly after the war, a remarkable new domestic type was introduced – the Aero 45 high-performance twin-engine all-metal 4-seater aircraft.
The Ae-45, a twin-engine civil aircraft
In 1953, a new facility was built in Vodochody designed entirely for the production of jet aircraft. It began operating that same year. The production, in which several Czechoslovak aircraft factories were involved, focused on the large-scale licensed manufacturing of the MiG-15 and its variants. The supersonic MiG-19 and MiG-21 were manufactured in Aero during the 60s and 70s, and pioneered the production capabilities for domestic jet trainer programmes – the L-29 Delfín and L-39 Albatros.
Aero moved from Prague to its new premises in Vodochody
Maiden flight of the MiG-15, a jet fighter produced under Soviet licence (3,405 aircraft delivered between 1954 and 1962)
Maiden flight of the MiG-19 Farmer, a supersonic fighter aircraft produced under Soviet licence (103 aircraft delivered between 1958 and 1962)
L-29 Dolphin – The first jet trainer designed and built in Czechoslovakia. The XL-29 prototype first flew on 5 April 1959.
The most successful jet trainer of all time, the L-39 Albatros was the first of the second generation of jet trainers and the first with a twin-jet engine. The aircraft first flew on November 4, 1968 and is still in service with many units around the world.
Modern combat and training system. 1969–1999
The end of the 90s saw the incorporation of Western avionics and standards, as well as the use of more powerful American engines and global equipment, thus ushering in a new chapter in the company’s life.
The L-59 Super Albatros combined the structural properties and experience of the L-39 Albatros family of aircraft with a powerful new engine, advanced avionics (including a transparent display), and improvement in the airframe and other systems. The first flight of the L-59 took place in 1986. A total of 60 of these aircraft were produced.
The L-159 combat and training system included advanced L-159 training and light fighter aircraft, integrated logistics support, planning and flight evaluation resources, and a ground training system.
Last deliveries of the L-29 model. A total of 3,665 L-29 aircraft were built, of which 1,943 were made at Aero Vodochody and the remaining 1,722 at the LET factory in Kunovice. The Dolphin thus became the most successful training aircraft ever produced.
Maiden flight of the in-house built L-39MS jet trainer – L-59 Super Albatros for export (60 aircraft delivered between 1992 and 1996)
Maiden flight of the L-159 ALCA single-seat light fighter aircraft (the Czech Air Force ordered 72 aircraft)
Resumption of jet aircraft production. 2000 - 2018
In 2014, Aero decided to start the development of an entirely new jet aircraft. Because it builds on the tradition of the legendary L-39 trainer, the new aircraft was named L-39NG.
In addition to developing the new aircraft, Aero commenced the integration of a Williams engine into the airframe of the existing L-39 aircraft. This enabled current L-39 users to extend the lifespan of their squadron. The integration was successful, and the reengined L-39 aircraft completed its first flight in September 2015.
In 2014, Aero simultaneously concluded two contracts for deliveries of the L-159. One to American company Draken International, which provides training services to various military customers, and the other to the Iraqi Air Force. While fulfilling the contract with Iraq, Aero also resumed production of the L-159, and began to offer it on the market once again.
Aero announced the start of development of the L-39NG aircraft.
Aero has signed a contract with Draken International for the delivery of the L-159.
Aero signed an L-159 delivery contract with the Iraqi Ministry of Defence.
The demonstrator of the L-39 remotorized aircraft successfully completed its first flight.
Aero delivered the first L-159s to Iraq and Draken International.
First flight of L-39NG prototype
Serial production of jet aircraft. 2018-present
The L-39NG has become Aero’s new flagship aircraft. It is a completely new generation of two-seat subsonic jet aircraft.
The L-39NG is a versatile platform suitable for training, reconnaissance and light combat missions.
From the flight of the first L-39NG prototype, through full certification to the start of serial production. These are major milestones that represent a new era for our company.
First public presentation of the L-39NG at NATO Days and start of serial production
The L-39NG has received its type certificate.
Penta announced the signing of the agreement on the sale of Aero. 100% owner of Aero is HSC Aerojet Zrt., in which OMNIPOL a.s. holds a minority stake.
L-39NG certification – Successful static and fatigue tests of the L-39NG airframe.
Aero and Lom Praha (state enterprise) – contract for the delivery of four new L-39NG jet aircraft for basic and advanced training of pilots of the Czech Air Force.
After a five-year certification process, the aircraft received full certification
Flight of the first mass-produced L-39NG aircraft.
Serial production of the L-39NG and preparation for delivery of the first aircraft to customers: Hungary, Vietnam, Czech Republic.
International Cooperation and Aerostructures
In the 1990s, Aero began work on the L270 multi-purpose aircraft to replace the Antonov An-2, the most common transport aircraft in the Eastern Bloc countries. In 1997, a joint venture between Ibis Aerospace Limited and Taiwan’s Aerospace Industrial Development Corporation (AIDC) was established. The L270 was renamed Ae 270. In 2005, the Ae 270 was type-certified by the European agency EASA, and in 2006 by the American agency FAA. However, the entire project was subsequently terminated.
Since 2000, Aero started to cooperate with a number of global aircraft manufacturers. Already in 2000, Aero started to produce the S-76 helicopter for the American company Sikorsky, a fully assembled and equipped helicopter ready for the installation of dynamic parts. Since then, Aero has won a number of other contracts for various aircraft assemblies and sub-assemblies.
In 2009, Aero signed its first-ever contract for an international risk-sharing project with the Belgian company SONACA. The subject of the cooperation is the joint development and subsequent production of a wing part (leading edge) for a completely new type of aircraft of Canadian Bombardier – CSeries.
Two years later, Aero signed a contract with the third largest aircraft manufacturer in the world, the Brazilian company Embraer, on the basis of which Embraer and Aero became partners in the development and production of a new military transport multi-purpose aircraft KC-390.
Aero is thus involved in the development and production of the leading edge of the wing, the technological development and production of all seven doors, the ramp and the rear fuselage, which means a share in the development and production of a large part of this aircraft.
Establishment of a joint venture with Taiwan’s AIDC to develop and produce the Ae270
Boeing became a strategic partner of the company
Flight of the first prototype of the Ae 270
Start of production of polished passenger door covers for the Boeing 757
Start of production of the S-76 helicopter for Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation
Start of production of F-18 Super Hornet cannon doors for Boeing St. Louis
Commencement of production of Boeing 767 parts and sub-assemblies for BAE SYSTEMS
Production of the middle section of the C-27J Spartan wing for Alenia Aeronautica begins
Production of Embraer 170/190 door subassemblies for Latecoere started
Contract awarded for the supply of pylons for the JAS-39 Gripen aircraft for Saab.
Contract signed with Embraer of Brazil for the development and production of the wing leading edge and for the technological development and production of all doors, cargo ramp and rear fuselage II for the KC-390 military transport aircraft.
Contract with Messier-Bugatti-Dowty extended to include main landing gear for the Airbus A320.
Aero has entered into a new contract with Italian aircraft manufacturer, Alenia Aermacchi, to supply fuselage panel kits for the Airbus A321.
Aero has started development of the landing gear for the Tecnam P2012 aircraft.
Aero has started production of composite parts and sub-assemblies for the Airbus A400M and A350 for MT Aerospace.
Contract signed with ST Aerospace for the development and production of shell structures for the conversion of Airbus aircraft from transport to freighter.