Polish Fulcrums take to the skies again.
Polish Air Force announced earlier today that its MiG-29 Fulcrum fighter aircraft will resume normal operations after a period of several months of uncertainty. The Fulcrums’ reliability has been under scrutiny so far, with several incidents placing a questionmark over their technical status and serviceablility.
The Polish military journalists have had an uncertain weekend, since the General Command of the Armed Forces had announced that the decision would be publicized today last Friday.
— Dowództwo Generalne (@DGeneralneRSZ) November 25, 2019
The command added that during the stand down period, along with the standard maintenance the MiG-29s received additional maintenance resulting from the fact that they were grounded and kept in storage.
In fact, the Polish Fulcrums have been grounded since a crash that happened in March and this means that neither the airframes nor the aircrews have flown for 9 months now. Dealing with the type currency, a special procedure was developed to allow the pilots to regain the ability and credentials to fly, as unofficial sources suggest – the experienced instructors would be mutually refreshing their credentials, and the process would then go down, and regard the rest of the crews. Unofficially, the only matter that is stopping the process is the poor weather in Poland now, preventing VFR (Visual Flight Rules) operations.
Rzeczpospolita quotes General Jacek Pszczoła, the Air Force Inspector, who said: “We looked the pilots straight into their eyes, asking whether they still want to fly – they said yes. So I accepted the request submitted by Maciej Trelka, commander of the first wing, for resuming of the operations, and then I submitted it to the General Commander, General Mika.”
According to Rzeczpospolita, the process of getting all of the pilots able to fly again would take around 6 months.
There are two conclusions to take away from the above. First, we may feel lucky that one of the last remaining European Fulcrum fleets is to still be flying. Second one is not optimistic: the fact that Fulcrums would still be flying is a risky decision, considering the potential maintenance problems that the Air Force may have with spares that need to be sourced from Russia somehow.