In this week’s Flight International (3-9 June), we visit the Czech Republic. In Communist times, the former Czechoslovakia was a workshop of the Eastern Bloc and aviation one of its key industries – with military trainers, light utility aircraft and turboprop engines its specialities. Aerospace remains vital for the Czech Republic 21 years after its split with Slovakia, with national champion Aero Vodochody surviving a bumpy decade-and-a-half to establish a reputation as a lean and profitable aerostructures supplier. GE is also overhauling the former Walter Engines into a global centre of excellence for small-aircraft engines, and Russian-owned Aircraft Industries – maker of the Let L-410 – is expanding production, with plans for a new version of the veteran transport. Meanwhile, the country remains a powerhouse of light sport aircraft. In a special feature, we talk to the main players in a resurgent industry.
Plus: what’s all the fuss about additive manufacturing. You can scarcely visit an industry conference without 3D printing being among the hottest of topics on the agenda. Is this the future for volume aerospace parts production or a highly-sophisticated manufacturing method that will not justify the investment? Stephen Trimble finds out.
In news: why it’s all information but no answers on MH370, why Northrop Grumman is taking a shine to Diamond and why price, rather than politics, is to blame for the Russian Q400 deal delay.