Kosice, October 30 (TASR) – The Slovak Training Academy (STA), a training centre for helicopter pilots from all over the world, was ceremonially opened at Kosice Airport on Monday with Prime Minister Robert Fico (Smer-SD) in attendance.
Slovak company MSM Group in cooperation with Czech firm European Air Services is behind the project. There are currently 16 helicopters available at the centre, including a legendary American Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter.
According to STA director Juraj Laus, Kosice’s training academy will be Europe’s only civilian operator of this type of helicopter and the management wants to purchase three more of them. “Our intention is to train 70 pilots per year. We’ll partly train foreign clients – military, civilian, emergency units, a wide range,” said Laus.
“We’re planing to invest more than $25 million in this project. I expect that within one year we should hire around 100 people. We see great synergy in cooperation with Kosice Airport and the Faculty of Aeronautics of Kosice Technical University,” said MSM Group managing director Marian Goga.
Fico at the opening ceremony welcomed the investment and highlighted the company’s activities in terms of reviving arms production in Slovakia. “I’m even more delighted that they’ve come up with projects with incredibly high added value, and this training centre is an excellent example of it. I’d very much like similar investments of strategic importance with such high added value to appear here in Kosice and in the surroundings more often,” said the prime minister.
STA is set to be put in operation as of December. According to Goga, the first client from the USA has ordered training from the centre. The Slovak Defence Ministry hasn’t joined the project yet. “Of course, it would be illogical if we didn’t want the Slovak Defence Ministry to use our services. However, our current business model isn’t set in a way that makes us dependent on it,” said Goga.
Fico in this context stated that the Slovak Air Force is currently undergoing a modernisation process. Only after that will it be possible to present further steps in this area.