The Czech defence ministry is planning to create an international military air academy for NATO countries and associate NATO Partnership for Peace nations. The first students could join in 2003.

Prague requires a new training school for its own pilots and believes that this can be made to pay for itself by opening the school to other countries.

Initial training will consist of 100h on the Zlin 142 light aircraft, followed by instruction on advanced trainers.

Fighter pilots will progress to a 150h course on the Aero Vodochody L-39 Albatros, followed by 200h on the Aero L-159. Transport pilots will continue their training by flying Let L-410s, while rotary-wing pilots will transfer to the Mil Mi-2 Hoplite.

The Czech air force requires around 30 pilots a year and so has excess capacity for third nations.

Two locations are being considered for the training school, Hradec Kralove and Pardubice. Although the defence ministry is believed to favour the former, dividing the school between the two locations is a possibility.

Pardubice's suitability could be compromised as it is home to the Czech air force's transport wing, limiting the airfield's capacity for training flights.

Five countries are understood to have expressed an interest in the scheme including the neighbouring Slovak Republic and Hungary, which gave up its own preliminary training several years ago.

The Czech project is similar to the scheme considered by Poland, where the Deblin Air Academy has the capacity to cover a full training syllabus, including live firing on air-to-air as well as air-to-ground ranges. Deblin's weather is considered to be among the best in northern Europe for flying.

The Poles, however, have done little to develop and promote their idea, while Prague appears to have pushed ahead with a workable scheme.

Source: Flight International