Czech manufacturer Aero Vodochody successfully flew their first serially produced L-39NG jet trainer, 20 years after the last mass-produced L-159 ALCA.
The first production aircraft with the serial number 7005 took off from the company’s facility in Vodochody on April 21, 2023, for a 40-minute test flight. The pilots verified the plane’s flight envelope and the functions of the engine, aircraft systems, and avionics.
During the test, the jet was brought from its stall to its maximum speed of 900 kilometers per hour (Mach 0.8). The L-39NG is powered by a Williams-Rolls F129 (or FJ44-4M) engine.
“The flight of the first production aircraft confirmed the readiness of the L-39NG for serial delivery to our customers,” said Viktor Sotona, President and CEO of Aero Vodochody. “The aircraft is a world leader in its class. In terms of design, flight characteristics, safety, avionics, and modern equipment, it is an excellent platform for training pilots of fourth and fifth-generation fighters.”
The first aircraft is destined for Vietnam People’s Air Force. The Southeast Asian country ordered 12 L-39NG trainers in 2021. The delivery should take place between 2023 and 2024 to replace the older L-39C that Vietnam currently uses to transition pilots to Su-30MMK fighters.
Other customers include Hungary and the Czech Republic, with a total backlog of 34 aircraft.
The L-39NG is a new take on the L-39 Albatros trainer which has been in operation for over 50 years with more than 30 air forces. It includes the new F129 engine to replace the Ivchenko AI-25 engine that powered the original Albatros, offering lower fuel consumption. The older model’s distinctive wingtip fuel tanks were traded for a wet wing internal fuel tank. The aircraft now possesses five hardpoints, one more than its predecessor.