Six Ukrainian Aviation engineers arrived in Sri Lanka this morning to inspect three Antonov aircraft belonging to the Sri Lanka Air Force, Air Force Spokesman Group Captain Dushan Wijesinghe said.
He said the engineers from the Antonov Design Bureau, the Ukrainian aircraft manufacturing and services company, arrived at the Bandaranaike International Airport from Kyiv in a Ukrainian flight under special authority.
Only the engineers were onboard the flight.
Group Captain Wijesinghe said the engineers arrived in the country after completing a self-quarantine period and they will undergo another 14-day self-quarantine period at the Jetwing Lagoon Hotel in Negombo at their expense. The engineers will also be subjected to two PCR tests each.
The Spokesman said the SLAF has four AV 32 aircraft and all of them were grounded at the moment.
“ After years of efforts, we have awarded the tender to the Antonov Design Bureau to repair three of the aircraft. We need to send the aircraft to Ukraine within three months from signing the agreement to repair them. But due to the Covid-19 outbreak, it was delayed," he said. He said those aircraft can not be sent to Ukraine as cargo and that they needed to be flown to Ukraine.
The Ukrainian engineers will inspect and run the ground test on those aircraft and then make a recommendation to fly them by our pilots to complete the repair in Ukraine.
The Spokesman said the SLAF fleet has no major cargo flights and those aircraft will be used to transport passengers and cargo after the completion of the repair.
The AN 32 aircraft inducted to the SLAF transport fleet in 1995.(Darshana Sanjeewa Balasuriya and T.K.G. Kapila)