Aero L-39 Albatros

Infobox Aircraft
name= L-39 Albatros

caption= An L-39 at the Santa Rosa Airshow.
type= Military trainer aircraft
manufacturer= Aero Vodochody
first flight= 4 November 1968
introduced= 1971
status= 2,800 still in use in various air forces
primary user= Soviet Air Force
more users= Czechoslovak Air Force Royal Thai Air Force
produced= 1970s-1999
number built=
unit cost= US$200,000-300,000
developed from = Aero L-29 Delfín
variants with their own articles= Aero L-59 Super Albatros Aero L-159 Alca

The Aero L-39 Albatros is a high-performance jet trainer aircraft developed in Czechoslovakia to meet requirements for a "C-39" (C for "cvičný" - trainer) during the 1960s to replace the L-29 Delfín. It was the first of the second-generation jet trainers, and the very first turbofan-powered trainer produced, and was later updated as the L-59 Super Albatros and as the L-139. The design is still produced in an evolved state as the L-159 Alca, while more than 2,800 L-39s still serve with over 30 air forces around the world. The Albatros is versatile, seeing duty in light attack missions as well as basic and advanced pilot training, and is the most widely-used jet trainer in the world.

Design and development

The L-39 first flew on 4 November, 1968. The L39 Albatros is a widely flown trainer/light attack aircraft similar in mission to the Italian MB339. The design is Czechoslovak, though there was significant Soviet input. The aircraft is in service with various former Soviet allies.

The low, slightly swept wing has a double-taper planform, 2 1/2-deg dihedral from the roots, a relatively low aspect ratio, and permanently attached, 26 1/2-gal US (100-liter) wingtip tanks. The trailing edge has double-slotted trailing edge flaps inboard of mass-balanced ailerons; the flaps are separated from the ailerons by small wing fences.

The tall, swept vertical tail has an inset rudder. Variable-incidence horizontal stabilizers with inset elevators are mounted at the base of the rudder and over the exhaust nozzle. Side-by-side airbrakes are located under the fuselage ahead of the wing's leading edge. Flaps, landing gear, wheel brakes and air brakes are powered by a hydraulic system. Controls are pushrod-actuated and have electrically powered servo tabs on the ailerons and rudder. Operational g-limits at 9,259 lb (4,200 kg) are +8/-4 g.

A single turbofan engine is embedded in the fuselage and is fed through shoulder-mounted, semi-circular air intakes (fitted with splitter plates) just behind the cockpit; the engine exhausts below the tailplane. Five rubber bag fuel tanks are located in the fuselage behind the cockpit. The main, trailing-arm landing gear legs retract inward into wing bays; the nose gear retracts forward.

A long, pointed nose made of fiberglass leads back to the tandem cockpit, in which the student and instructor sit under individual canopies that are hinged on the right. The rear (instructor's) seat is raised slightly; both ejection seats are made by Aero.

The basic trainer is not armed, but has two underwing pylons for drop tanks and practice weapons. Light-attack variants have four underwing hardpoints for ground attack stores; the ZA also has an underfuselage gun pod.

This model is no longer in production and is replaced by the L-159.

Operational history

While newer versions are now replacing older L-39s in service, thousands remain in active service as trainers, and many are finding new homes with private owners all over the world. This is particularly evident in the United States, where their $200,000-$300,000 price puts them in range of moderately wealthy pilots looking for a fast, agile personal jet. Their popularity led to a purely L-39 Jet class at the Reno Air Races (though it has since been expanded to include other, similar aircraft). As of mid-March 2006, there are 257 L-39s in the US Federal Aviation register.

In the spring of 2008, a number of Georgian drones were shot down by Abkhaz separatist or Russian forces. In the first of these occasions, on April 20, 2008 The Abkhazian separatist forces claimed that one of its missile-equipped L-39 had downed a Georgian Hermes 450 unmanned reconnaissance drone. []


;L-39X-02 - X11:Ten prototypes.;L-39C "(C for Cvičná - training)":Standard production version.;L-39V "(V for Vlečná - tug)":Single-seat version for target tug KT-04, eight built.;L-39ZO "(Z for Zbraně - weapons)":A four pylon light attack variant with a strengthened wing structure.;L-39ZA:Significantly upgraded L-39ZO, employing sturdier landing gear, a higher payload and notably the GSh-23L - 23 millimeter twin barrelled cannon attached in a conformal pod under the pilots' compartment, having a 150 round magazine within the airframe.;L-39Z/ART:Thai version with Elbit avionics.;L-39MS:The Aero L-39MS Super Albatros is a Czech military trainer aircraft developed from the firm's earlier L-39. Compared to its predecessor, it featured a strengthened fuselage, longer nose, a vastly updated cockpit, and a more powerful engine. At the time of its first flight on September 30 1996, it was later designated as the L-59.


*HUN withdrawn from use in 2009, to be replaced by L-159 ALCAs
*THA L-39ZA/ART (Westernized version of the Aero L-39 Albatros, equipped with Israeli avionics)

Notable incidents

* 24 January 2001 Atlas Air Founder, Chairman and CEO Michael A. Chowdry was killed Jan. 24 when his Czech L-39 jet trainer crashed into an open field near Watkins, Colorado. Also killed was Wall Street Journal aerospace reporter Jeff Cole. Chowdry and Cole were making a previously planned flight from Front Range Airport. [ [ Atlas Air CEO Chowdry killed in crash.(Michael A. Chowdry killed in jet trainer crash)(Brief Article) | Air Transport World | Find Articles at BNET ] ] [ [ DEN01FA044 ] ]
* 02 July 2003 Elmo Hahn, 54, a developer and well-known pilot in Muskegon, Mich., died soon after a crash of his L-39. Hahn was returning to Muskegon after filming a segment about the L-39 Albatross for CNN. He was lifting off in his aircraft and ejected from the plane due to an engine failure caused by ingestion of objects from the aircraft's baggage compartment, which had not been latched. Hahn did not survive. [ [,%20AL%20July%202003.html Gadsden, AL July 2003 ] ]
* 16 March 2007 An L-39 crashed at the Tico Warbird air show at Space Coast Regional Airport in Titusville, Florida, killing the pilot. [ [ Fatal L-39 Crash @ Tico Airshow — Military Forum | ] ] The pilot was identified as attorney Eilon Krugman-Kadi, 58, of Gainesville, FL, a former Israeli fighter pilot. [ [ W.R.Pursell Law Offices - Home ] ] The L-39 had been built for the Soviet air force in 1980, and was demilitiarized in 1999 from Ukraine. [ [ Gainesville's own Top Gun | | The Gainesville Sun | Gainesville, FL ] ]

* 13 September 2007 Air race pilot Brad Morehouse of Afton, Wyoming was killed when his L-39 crashed in a race at the Reno Air Races. According to newspaper reports, it appeared that pilot lost control when the plane was caught in wake turbulence generated by other racers. [ [,2933,296742,00.html - Second Pilot Dies in Three Days at Reno Air Races - Local News | News Articles | National News | US News ] ]

* 20 June 2008 An L-39 crashed during training at Fehergyarmat, Hungary, killing the two pilots. [ [ Index - Szekeres Imre: A pilóták eltérhettek a feladattól ] ] [ [ The Budapest Times - Hungary‘s leading English Language source for daily news ] ] [ [ Weather – MTI - Hungarian News Agency Corp. - Hungarian News Agency Corp ] ]

pecifications (L-39C)

aircraft specifications

plane or copter?=plane
jet or prop?=jet

length main=12.13 m
length alt=39 ft 10 in
span main=9.46 m
span alt=31 ft 0 in
height main=4.77 m
height alt=15 ft 5 in
area main=18.8 m²
area alt=202 ft²
empty weight main=3,459 kg
empty weight alt=7,625 lb
loaded weight main=
loaded weight alt=
max takeoff weight main=5,700 kg
max takeoff weight alt=12,560 lb

engine (jet)=Progress/Ivchenko AI-25TL
type of jet=turbofan
number of jets=1
thrust main=16.9 kN
thrust alt=3,800 lbf

max speed main=750 km/h
max speed alt=400 knots, 470 mph
max speed more=at 4,000 m (16,000 ft)
never exceed speed main=Mach 0.80
more performance=
* Take-off roll: 530 m (1,700 ft)
* Landing roll: 600 m (2,000 ft)
range main=1,000 km
range alt=540 nm, 620 mi
ceiling main=11,500 m
ceiling alt=37,730 ft
climb rate main=22 m/s
climb rate alt=4,330 ft/min
loading main=250.0 kg/m²
loading alt=51.23 lb/ft²

* Up to 1,290 kg (2,840 lb) of stores on four external hardpoints, including:
** AAMs (K-13 and R-60) missiles
** 7.62 mm machine-gun pods
** free-fall and cluster bombs
** rocket launchers
** drop tanks

ee also

* Aero L-59 Super Albatros
* Aero L-159 ALCA

similar aircraft=
* Aermacchi MB-339
* ATG Javelin
* FMA IA 63 Pampa
* PZL I-22 Iryda
* BAe Hawk
* CASA 101
* Dassault/Dornier Alpha Jet
* Kawasaki T-4
* Soko G-2 Galeb
* Soko G-4 Super Galeb
* PZL I-22 Iryda


see also=


External links

* [ L-39 Specification form Aero]
* [ Czech Jet Team] - civilian display team.
* [ Breitling jet team] - civilian display team.
* [ Aero Vodochody Product Page]
* [ L-39 Training System]
* [ L-39 Enthusiasts] - L-39 Enthusiasts
* [ International Jets] - L-39 Parts, Service, Training and Sales
* [ Pride Aircraft] - L-39 Restorations and training
* [ Warbird Alley L-39 Page]
* [ Hoppers] - L-39 Demonstration Team
* [ Biele Albatrosy] - Official Slovak Air Force L-39 Display Team
* [ Patriots jet team] - civilian display team.

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