L-39
L-39 Albatros jet trainer

On 12 October, at its factory near Prague Aero Vodochody rolled out the latest incarnation of its L-39 Albatros jet trainer that first flew in November 1968.

The L-39NG was the first of prototypes that is scheduled to make its first flight in December. The ‘New Generation’ L-39 was unveiled by Aero Vodochody president and CEO, Guiseppe Giordo in front of the Czech Prime Minister who said that the L-39NG illustrated the Czech aerospace industry’s competitiveness in the international market. With more than 40 Czech companies involved in the aircraft’s production, it had his full support.

Giordo said that he was confident that the L-39NG would secure a significant portion of an expected 3,000-jet trainer market over the next 15 years. Certification is expected in 2019 with first deliveries in 2020. With a lead time of seven months, the planned production rate is 20 aircraft a year. The L-39NG’s avionics, that include an embedded virtual training capability, have already been fully flight tested in a demonstrator aircraft which flew for the first time in September 2015.

Designed primarily as a basic and advanced jet trainer, the L-39NG can also performed a variety of other roles including light combat, close air support and reconnaissance.

The L-39NG is powered by a Williams International FJ44-4M engine, has a new wing with integrated fuel tank, five hardponts with a 3,620lb (1,640kg) external weapons payload and an optional gun-pod. The L-39NG has a 20 percent component commonality with the L-159 and has a high content of composite content.

With more than 3,000 L-39 produced, 400 of which remain in service in 46 countries, Aero is confident that many of them will be future L-39NG customers. The launch customer is the Czech state-owned company LOM Praha, followed by the Breitling Jet Team that operates nine L-39s, and Draken International which operates the L-159E ALCA and is the distributer for Aero Vodochody aircraft in the Americas.

by David Oliver