The history of VZLU (Czech Aerospace Research Centre) dates back to 1922, a year when the Institute for Air Navigation Studies under the auspices of Ministry of Defence was founded. More than 80 Czechoslovak aircraft types have passed through the VZLU’s gates since then.
In the pre-war years VZLU was focused mainly on aerodynamics and strength-of-structure calculations. Aircraft made in LETOV, AVIA, AERO and PRAGA factories were tested here. After the War VZLU came under the civil administration and took over design work from many aviation factories. VZLU gave rise to a number of successful aircrafts such as the first jet aeroplane L-29 Dolphin, the L-13 Blanik sailplane, sporting planes and helicopters.
From the mid sixties, VZLU participated in the developments of new airplanes like the L-39 Albatros jet, the L-410 small transport aircraft and sporting planes. For most of the airplanes new engines, an ejection seat, propellers and other systems were developed jointly with other manufacturing plants. In this connection some electronics systems should be mentioned such as the first Czechoslovak flight simulator, control and diagnostics system, and last but not least the PES, an electronic flight-deck navigation and fire control system. VZLU carried out wind tunnel tests on all of the planes being developed, conducted most of aerodynamic calculation, and all fatigue and strength measurements to increase their service life. VZLU also played an important role in initiating license production of Soviet planes Il-10, MiG-15, and Il-14. Measurements and tests of products beyond the aviation field such as land transport vehicles, construction and building structures were carried out at VZLU as well.
After 1989 VZLU had to sustain and overcome economic difficulties linked with downturn of the Czech aviation industry and the Soviet Union break-up resulting in the loss of eastern markets. VZLU was actively involved in new aeronautical and other programmes particularly in the development of a new jet trainer, the L-159 ALCA. As for the civil sector, VZLU participated in the development and testing of a regional transport plane L-610G and a single-engined turboprop Ae-270.
Since 1993 VZLU has been largely engaged in national scientific and research programmes financed by ministries of the Czech Republic aimed at supporting domestic industries. Since 1999 VZLU has been participating in more than thirty international projects supported by the EU.
In 2004 VZLU received institutional support in the form of four research projects to further back up its main disciplines. At present VZLU is taking part in tests and development of the EV-55 airplane project, a two-engine turboprop being designed by Evektor Company, and the Corvus airplane designed by Wolfsberg Aircraft.
VZLU engagement in projects beyond aviation has increased to a large extent over the last couple of years. VZLU is working for a number of customers coming from various industries like turbo-set engineering, car industry, rail vehicles, civil engineering and textile industry, and others.