STORY INLINE POST
Q: How did Zlin build its reputation and reach in the aerospace sector?
A: The Zlin brand began in 1934 and was founded by one of the most important people in the industry at that time, Tomáš Vakiav. We have manufactured more than 20,000 planes and, currently, there are over 3,000 active Zlin planes.
In 2009, we re-established our factory in Otrokovice, even though the economic environment was not favorable. Since then, we have manufactured about 200 planes. Currently, we are in the process of modernizing our production line. We are increasing production and the goal is to manufacture around 50 planes per year.
Our reputation comes from our focus on airplanes for training exercises. Our target market is aviation schools, owing to our special features that match their needs. Our planes have a specific design for training, so that novice pilots can learn to fly with all the necessary safety measures. We manufacture a two-seater biplane and a four-seater plane, which serve to train civilian pilots. These planes can stay in the air for up to 15 hours, which also makes them ideal to monitor coasts.
Q: What are your main markets and how is cooperation influenced by your global presence?
A: We have a very interesting cooperation agreement with the Far East at the moment but we cannot say exactly where. We are also expecting a group of businessmen from the Czech Republic to sign a contract for hundreds of planes. We also have planes in Africa and we are planning to go to Argelia to present a new airplane with the aim of selling over 12 units.
We are looking for a partner in the US and Mexico for agriculture and fertilizer planes with parameters similar to the Air Tractor company in the US. Thousands of planes of this type are needed in the US. Thus, we are looking for a partner with experience in manufacturing this type of aircraft.
Speaking specifically of Latin America, we delivered 12 Zlin-242 planes to Bolivia, which is a two-seater for military schools. Peru also has 12 planes and we have 40 planes in Mexico. We have around eight planes in Argentina but they are for civil use. In North America, we cooperate with a state aviation university in Canada, where we have 16 planes. There is a lot of interest from US companies that are requesting a huge number of planes. At the moment, we are trying to gauge how we can manage this backlog because the quantities are too large for now. We also have our representatives in the US who mainly sell spare parts.
Q: What are Zlin’s plans for the Mexican market?
A: We hope to find a company that has enough experience to be our partner here in Mexico. We need a company that is experienced in the Mexican aerospace sector and that is financially stable to be able to develop ZLIN aircraft brand, independently.
We are also aiming to start production operations in Mexico. The idea is to take people from Mexico to our factory and teach them everything, including control of aircraft assembly processes, after about a year, we can start moving the aircraft assembly here. Our ultimate goal is to open a factory that would produce airplanes and I believe that we will achieve this goal. We do not like big words and massive marketing; what we like is good, honest work to ensure that what we produce is truly a good and safe product. Everything takes time and this is a very big project but what we really want is to find an experienced, trustworthy partner. In the end, it is about lives pilots, students and other aircraft operators; airplanes have to be absolutely safe.
Zlin Aircraft is a Czech manufacturer of light aircraft, specialized in sport and training planes. The company has the capabilities to produce aircraft for the military sector with a strong global presence.