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FARNBOROUGH: L-39 scores 34 commitments

Aero Vodochody has won commitments for 34 L-39 aircraft from companies that plan to provide training services to the world’s air forces.

The deals involve US firm RSW and Portugal-based SkyTech. RSW placed firm orders for 12 new-build L-39NG, as well as six L-39CWs. Skytech, which is backed by commercial lessor HiFly, ordered 12 L-39NGs and took options for six.

The L-39NG is a new-build aircraft produced at the company’s factory outside Prague. The L-39CE sees a legacy L-39 effectively re-manufactured and re-engined, bringing it to the L-39G standard.

The update of the prolific Cold War type sees the Ivchenko-Progress turbofan replaced with a Williams International FJ44-4M, while Brezhnev-era flightdeck technology makes way for a Genesys Aerosystems glass cockpit.

The deal follows April’s order from Senegal for four armed L-39NGs, and takes the programme’s potential backlog to 38 aircraft – which would ensure a production run from 2020 until 2022.

“SkyTech represents a strategic partnership for us starting a new era in jet training at a time when all air forces have an urgent need of cost effective training, with growing time and capacity demands,” says Aero Vodochody president and chief executive Giuseppe Giordo.

Mal Sanford, senior vice president of SkyTech, says that air forces are increasingly stretched financially, owing to the introduction of advanced new platforms. This has led to budgetary challenges in areas such as pilot training. SkyTech’s model involves air forces leasing facilities, equipment and aircraft through arrangements similar to airlines leasing aircraft from lessors.

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