Aero Vodochody’s L-39NG jet trainer technology demonstrator completed its maiden flight from the factory airfield on September 14. It was flown by a company test crew comprising Miroslav Schützner and Vladimír Kvarda. The aircraft features the new FJ44-4M engine from Williams International and avionics built around Genesys Aerosystems’ multi-functional displays and head-up displays (HUD) by SPEEL Praha. The aircraft will serve to validate the installation of the new engine and avionics in the L-39NG project. Other noticeable improvements include composite wingtips in place of the original tanks. The first flight was witnessed by Brig Gen Libor Štefánik, commander of the Czech Air Force, and representatives of the Ministry of Defence.
Company president Ladislav Šimek summarized the project: “The choices of the FJ44-4M engine from Williams International and avionics from Genesys Aerosystems and SPEEL Praha have proven to be absolutely spot on. After less than three weeks from engine delivery, the aircraft successfully underwent its first flight. I’d like to thank all our partners who made it possible to complete this project in record time. I’d also like to acknowledge the hard work of our employees, who adhered to a very demanding construction schedule while maintaining a full workload of other projects and successfully completed the aircraft by the deadline we promised publicly. By using the best available components, the integration of which culminates in this first flight, we have brought to the market an unprecedentedly effective type of aircraft, accessible to a broad spectrum of users.”
Only five days after its maiden flight, the aircraft was on show during the NATO Days in Ostrava on September 19 and 20. Next year, the company plans to participate in a number of international aviation trade shows with the demonstrator. The first aircraft has been converted from a former Ukraine Air Force L-39C that had been returned to Aero Vodochody and used for several years as a company development aircraft.
Development of the L-39NG had been launched at the Farnborough International Air Show on July 16 last year. It is intended to serve as a direct replacement for the original L-39 Albators produced by Aero, which says it expects to begin first deliveries in 2018. At the Paris Air Show on June 16 this year, the Czech manufacturer announced that it has now signed up its first customers. Czech state-owned LOM Praha, which is responsible for training Czech Air Force pilots and many international customers at its Flight Training Centre is the launch customer. The company currently operates seven L-39s, which will be upgraded to the new L-39NG standard, while the contract also includes an option to purchase new L-39NGs as a potential replacement for, or addition to, the existing fleet. Aero has also received Letters of Intent (LoIs) from two aerobatic teams – the Breitling Jet Team and the Black Diamond Jet Team, which are both interested in equipping their aircraft with the new Williams engines. The company also said in Paris that it was in talks with two other potential government customers. Alan Warnes