Avia 14-32A / Ilyushin Il-14, manufactured under licence in Czechoslovakia (c/n 805119, formerly OK-MCI of the Czechoslovak Airlines), open-air exhibition in Kbely Aviation Museum, Prague (Letecké muzeum Kbely), August 2022.
A short story of development and operational service of the Ilyushin Il-14 was already presented within our Photo of the Week series, in an article issued in September 2021 and focused on a specialized, photogrammetric variant of the aircraft, also being exhibited in the aforementioned aviation museum in Prague.
This time, however, we would like to tell a few words about the airliner variant produced under licence in then Czechoslovakia and designated Avia 14.
It all started in 1955, when Avia company launched manufacturing of the aircraft in Prague- Letňany plant. The first licence-made Avia 14 took-off for its maiden flight on 14th August 1956 and then was handed over to Czechoslovak Aviation Research Centre for evaluation purposes. The same happened with the second example of the Avia 14, however that aeroplane was sent for evaluation to the Soviet Union. The next serial-manufactured aircraft were intended for the Czechoslovak Air Force, the Soviet Union and for ´LOT´ Polish Airlines.
The Czechoslovak Airlines (Československé aerolinie – ČSA) had to wait until the mid-1957, to receive its first five examples of the domestic-made airliner. As the first, the aircraft with registration OK-LCA began its operational service in June. All the Avia 14 aeroplanes of that batch were made in Av-14-24 version, with increased maximum take-off weight and able to carry up to 24 passengers.
One year later, ČSA received its first Avia 14 upgraded to Av-14-32 variant. The new aeroplane was able to carry up to 32 passengers and featured an extended fuselage, new interior of passenger cabin and cockpit, as well as modernized avionics equipment. That aircraft was registered as OK-LCF, but further Avia 14 airliners delivered to the company were indicated with OK-MCH to OK-MCZ registration series.
Shortly thereafter, another upgrade was introduced, allowing to carry up to forty passengers. Such aircraft were designated Av-14-40 (aka 14-32A). Over the next years, all Av-14-32 aeroplanes were modified to that variant.
An interesting fact is that some of the ČSA airliners were, apart of the official registration, carrying their own names. That also applied to Avia 14 and most of the aircraft were named after Czechoslovak cities, such as Písek, Strakonice, Lučenec, Olomouc, Jindřichův Hradec, Přerov and Trenćin. However, there were a few exceptions – OK-MCU was named Bílá labut´ (White swan), OK-MCJ was Svit Gottwaldov (name of shoe factory in Zlín city, between 1949 and 1989 re-named to Gottwaldov) and OK-MCI pictured above was named Vlaštovka (barn swallow).
Between 1957 and 1977, ČSA operated approximately 30 examples of the Avia 14 airliner in all variants, as well as one Avia 14T cargo aircraft for carrying air mail. Nevertheless, the aeroplanes were sometimes being swapped with the Czechoslovak Air Force, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and other state-owned companies and institutions. The final operational flight of the Avia 14 with ČSA was recorded on 31st March 1977. It was completed by the aircraft OK-LCD, on a route from Košice to Prague.
The aircraft OK-MCI was retired from active service with ČSA in 1975 and then handed over to Kbely Aviation Museum for exhibition purposes. In 2020, the airliner undergone a complete restoration and is now a part of open-air exhibition in the main area of the museum.