Prague-based Aero Vododchody began a new chapter in its illustrious 99-year history today when it rolled out its L-39NG jet trainer. According to Aero, the prototype, 7001, will make its first flight by the end of the year. The appearance of the L-39NG comes 21 years after the L-159 was unveiled to the public in 1997, but since then the company has gone through some fairly lean times.
On a gloriously sunny day at the Odolena Voda facility, the aircraft was pushed out of Hall 4 through dry ice and shown off to an exclusively invited audience that included the Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, Andrej Babiš.
Aero’s President and CEO, Giuseppe Giordo believes that there is a market for around 3,000 jet trainers over the coming years and told onlookers that he believed Aero could reach sales of “between 150 and 200 L-39NGs”.
To date, Aero has deals that cover an order from Senegal for four light-attack variants, as well as two Letters of Intent (LOIs) from Portugal-based Skytech for ten L-39NGs with another six on option, while Phoenix-based RSW Aviation wants 12 L-39NGs and the upgrade of its fleet of six legacy L-39s to L-39CW standard. The CW is an interim version with a new Williams FJ44-4M powerplant and the same avionics that will be installed in the L-39NG.
Aero is likely to add to these with an order from state-owned LOM Praha in the near future. During his speech the prime minister revealed: “I will personally support the aircraft to make sure it is a success and I expect other ministers of my government to take the same stance.”
It was the clearest indication yet that LOM Praha will indeed get the green light to order four jets – with another two on option – for its Pardubice-based Centrum leteckého výcviku (CLV, Flight Training Centre) which trains Czech Air Force pilots.
More good news for Aero is that Skytech looks likely to turn its LOI with a financial commitment into a contract by the end of the year. The company Vice President, Business Development, Laurente Donnet told AFM: “The contract will be signed within weeks or months”.
The first L-39NG prototype will soon be followed by a full-scale static test aircraft (c/n 7002), a fatigue test-bed (c/n 7003) and a pre-series aircraft (c/n 7004) that will become the second airworthy example and probably the first for LOM Praha. First customer deliveries are expected in early 2020. Alan Warnes