Aero Vodochody has announced that the first L-39NG next-generation jet trainer (serial 7001) has entered final assembly. All sections of the fuselage have been integrated to create the final assembly structure – known as a cigar. The airframe is 70% complete and the Czech manufacturer is on track for a roll-out in October.
Giuseppe Giordo, President and CEO of Aero Vodochody said: “By reaching this milestone, the L-39NG is getting its final shape, and very soon, we will be able to show the new jet trainer aircraft. The L-39NG is a new start for Aero Vodochody returning us back to the world class of proprietary aircraft manufacturers.”
The entire fuselage consists of 3,365 parts, only 10% of the which are common to its predecessor, the L-39 Albatros. After final assembly of the fuselage, the fuselage and wing will be integrated. Marry-up is planned for September together with incorporation of major sub-systems.
The Farnborough International Airshow in July included the announcement of two new customers for the Prague-based manufacturer’s L-39NG.
Lisbon-based Skytech signed a letter of intent (LOI), with a financial commitment for ten L-39NGs and options for six more. Skytech’s senior vice president, Mal Sandford, told AFM: “There are not enough modern trainers out there – there’s a shortfall. What do air forces do if they don’t have a large enough number of pilots to train? We have a lot of support from the Portuguese Air Force, but first we want to make relationships with OEMs.
“The reason we were attracted to Aero is because of the possibility of Red Air aggressor work. As a commercial venture we would want to increase the amount of flying – so if it’s not in use for flying training, we could fly it in Red Air missions.”
He added: “We need aircraft that are adaptable so that’s why the L-39NG stood out, and the KC-390 has as well.”
Skytech, owned by aircraft leasing company HiFly, signed an LOI for six KC-390s at the Singapore Airshow in February. Sandford also said the company was about to sign a contract for its first two of the six Brazilian airlifters.
The second company to sign an LOI with Aero is Phoenix-based RSW Aviation, which wants 12 L-39NGs as well as the upgrade of its five L-39Cs and single L-39ZA to L-39CW/L-39ZAW standards.
RSW has acquired 22 ex-RAF Tucano T1s, and will use some of them for basic flying training, leading into the L-39NG. According to David Patrick, RSW Aviation’s chief operating officer: “People are approaching us for pilot augmentation and we believe we can offer a training service to countries who don’t have their own aircraft. We’re hoping to sign a deal for L-39 upgrades soon and then the L-39NGs.”
If contracted, all the jets should be delivered between 2020 and 2022. With these 34, and the four for Senegal announced earlier in the year, Aero Vodochody now has the prospect of selling 38 aircraft – its chairman, Giuseppe Giordo, saying he expected further orders for an additional 22 L-39NGs.