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The Polish Air Force’s fleet of earlier generation PZL 130 ORLIK TC-I trainer aircraft are to undergo a radical modernisation that will bring them up to the latest global aviation standards and allow them to operate for decades to come.

Under the terms of a contract awarded by the Polish Defence Ministry, PZL Warszawa-Okęcie, a subsidiary of Airbus, will perform extensive structural and avionics upgrades on the 12 aircraft before returning them for service as effectively new machines.

Designated ORLIK TC II Advanced, the modernised aircraft will join 16 similar aircraft currently being updated from the more recent ORLIK TC II standard in a uniform fleet. Work begins immediately and will see the aircraft re-enter service at 42 Air Training Base, Radom between mid-2019 and October 2020 with lives of 12,000 flight hours ahead of them.

The two-part work package includes first the provision of new wings, tails, engines and propellers, and then the complete replacement of the cockpit instrumentation and avionics with modern systems. The modernisation permits the introduction of “on-condition” instead of calendar-based maintenance, and half as frequent checks, resulting in major operating cost savings. 

The full work package consists of new wing and tail assembly, modified fuselage, engine bed and fairing; an upgrade to 559kW Pratt & Whitney Canada PTA6-25C engine and four-blade Hartzell propeller; total replacement of existing instrumentation with fully digital glass cockpit for student and instructor (includes flight, engine, navigation, and warning displays; new communication and navigation radios and systems; installation of Terrain Alert & Warning System [TAWS] and Traffic Alert and Collision Avoidance System [TCAS]); and a total replacement of the air conditioning system, electrical systems and all wiring.

 "This programme will provide a cost-effective route for Poland to train its future military pilots in an advanced aircraft that meets all equipment requirements to fly in today’s regulated and controlled airspace while remaining a fully aerobatic trainer permitting the latest instructional techniques." Manuel Heredia, President and CEO of PZL, said. "Furthermore, the production capabilities that we gain during this work will lay the ground for the resumption of series production of the ORLIK for export customers for which we see excellent possibilities."

Earlier this year an additional contract was signed to develop an ORLIK full flight simulator for the Polish Air Force, which will complete the suite of required instructional aids.

 

 

 

PZL to modernise 12 Polish Air Force ORLIK TC-I training aircraft. (Photos: PZL)

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