By David Oliver
The Czech aerospace company Aero Vodochody attended Expodensa for the first time to promote the latest incarnation of its L-39 Albatros jet trainer that first flew in November 1968 at its factory near Prague
The L-39 “New Generation” (NG) made its first flight in December 2018. At its rollout, the company claimed that the L-39NG illustrated the Czech aerospace industry’s competitiveness in the international market. More than 40 Czech companies are involved in the aircraft’s production.
Aero Vodochody is confident that the tandem two-seat L-39NG would secure a significant portion of an expected 3,000-jet trainer market over the next 15 years. Certification is expected by the end of 2020 with first deliveries in 2021. With a lead time of seven months, the planned production rate is 20 aircraft a year.
Powered by a Williams International FJ44-4M engine, the L-39NG has a new wing with integrated fuel tank, 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 perform a variety of other roles including light combat, close air support and reconnaissance. The aircraft has a centreline and four underwing hardpoints for 12.7 or 20 mm gun pods, 70 mm rocket pods, Mk 82 freefall bombs, laser-guided 70 mm rockets, and guided bombs.
With more than 3,000 L-39s 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 America At Expodefensa Vodochody spokesperson said that the company was introducing the new aircraft to the Latin American market and that it was responding to requirements from several counties in the region for an advanced trainer/light attack aircraft.
Photo by David Oliver