Czech initiative to train young Ukrainian pilots brings “second wind” to students

Minister Lipavský talking to the Ukrainian transport pilots in Czechia

Since Russia began its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, pilots have been unable to complete the required training necessary for their certification. In response to this, the Czech government has announced its support of a new project bridging the Czech Technical University and the National Aviation University in Kiev, where 20 Ukrainian students will train in the Czech air space and get their pilot certification.

On Tuesday afternoon at the Czech Technical University (CTU), Czechia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Jan Lipavský announced a new project being funded by the state – a program in which young Ukrainian transport pilots are trained in Czechia. The training program is in collaborations with CTU and the National Aviation University in Kiev (NAU). Minister Lipavský explained.

Minister Lipavský,  Rector of CTU Vojtěch Petráček,  Rector of NAU Volodymyr Šulha,  Charge d'affaires of the Ukrainian Embassy of the Czech Republic Vitalij Usaty | Photo: Amelia Mola-Schmidt,  Radio Prague International

“In November of 2022, the Ukrainian Transport Minister requested support in the form of practical training for students from the NAU in Kiev whose flight training was suspended due to the war. Building on previous collaboration between CTU and the NAU, we have proposed a new training project in Czechia financed from the reconstruction assistance program for Ukraine. The government has approved a three year long program which will provide training for 20 pilots in Czech schools.”

Currently, 11 male and three female pilots are in the training program in Czechia’s Karlovy Vary, where they started with theoretical work, but have already moved into more hands on training. The overall budget for the project is CZK 22 million, with majority of the funding being put towards the practical training of the students. The American Embassy has also contributed an additional CZK 10 million in support of the project.

Students Vira Lytvyn and Danylo Osadchyi | Photo: Amelia Mola-Schmidt,  Radio Prague International

Rector of CTU Vojtěch Petráček expressed his excitement for the new program his university is supporting.

“For me and for our university, this is very important in our support for Ukraine. We’ve supported Ukraine and its fight against Russian aggression since day one, and will continue to do so as long as it’s needed. Since the education of pilots is very important for the country of Ukraine, we are very happy to contribute. This way, we can also contribute to the future integration of the Ukraine into the EU community, since our education will lead to European standards for pilots.”

Minister Lipavský expressed that while providing humanitarian aid to Ukraine remains important, supporting projects that will rebuild the country after the war is also a priority for Czechia.

“We are providing immediate humanitarian assistance to Ukraine, but we also support stabilization and future development. Once the fighting ends, Ukraine will need a rapid reconstruction of its infrastructure, of which civil transport is an integral part.”

Minister Lipavský with Vira Lytvyn  (right) and Danylo Osadchyi  (left) | Photo: Olga Vasinkevich,  Radio Prague International

The new program has been received with open arms by the young pilots since the NAU in Kiev was no longer able to train them due to the air space being closed. Danylo Osadchyi, a student from Kiev, told me about the group’s experience so far.

“Everyone is really happy because of the program, even though we have to study eight to 10 hours a day, we are still happy and full of energy to do it because it’s our passion. It’s meant a lot for me because after the full-scale invasion started, we had no opportunities to fly or have training in Ukraine. This program gave us a second wind, it gave us new meaning in life.”

The program hopes to prepare the students for their first flight exam in the spring of this year, and the teaching and training will be ongoing till the end of 2024.

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