Andrzej Jeziorski/MUNICH

PZL-Okecie is taking advantage of the Polish air force's continuing dilemma over its choice of advanced jet trainer to propose further orders and upgrades for the PZL-130 Orlik turboprop trainer.

According to Okecie, discussions are being held with the air force about shifting more of the 300h pilot training programme on to the Orlik as a way of reducing the number of advanced trainers the Ministry of National Defence will eventually have to buy.

Trainee pilots now complete 80h on the air force's fleet of PZL-130TC-1s before moving on to the outdated PZL-Mielec TS-11 Iskra jet trainer. Advanced jet training was to have been carried out on the air force's PZL-Mielec Irydas, but all of these are grounded pending the resolution of a long-running dispute over the aircraft's performance, and over financing to complete the latest upgrades.

Okecie says that, with further upgrades, pilots could complete as much as 180h of their training on the Orlik, reducing the number of jet trainers that the air force would have to buy.

The Polish air force has 29 PZL-130TC-1s in service, powered by Czech-built Walter M 601 T engines. Three more are under construction, while the total fleet is expected eventually to number 48.

The air force aircraft have been upgraded with Martin Baker Mk PL11B ejection seats, an AlliedSignal Bendix/ King global positioning satellite navigation system, a multifunction flight data recorder, and an enlarged undertail fin for additional directional stability. Further modifications have been proposed, including external fuel tanks, an active stabiliser to compensate for the engine's gyroscopic effects and prop wash, and the addition of hardpoints.

The one PZL-130TC test aircraft powered by a Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-62 engine, is grounded, the manufacturer having failed to convince the air force or any export customers to use the engine.

Source: Flight International