In the Cock­pit

Fly­ing and main­tain­ing the Aero jets to­day

Aviation Classics - - CONTENTS -

The L-39 and its fam­ily have built up a ster­ling rep­u­ta­tion for re­li­a­bil­ity and adapt­abil­ity, not to men­tion fine han­dling, dur­ing a long and distin­guished ser­vice ca­reer. Avi­a­tion Clas­sics spoke to some of the pilots and engi­neers of the Czech Air Force who op­er­ate the L-39 and -159 to­day, and to Aero’s own team of test pilots to dis­cover the re­al­ity be­hind the rep­u­ta­tion.

The train­ing sys­tem for jet pilots of the Czech Air Force is a straight­for­ward one, sim­pli­fied by their abil­ity to use the L-39 in both ba­sic and ad­vanced train­ing roles. Avi­a­tion Clas­sics vis­ited the 21st Tac­ti­cal Air Force Base at áslav which is home to three fly­ing squadrons and the 214 Main­te­nance Squadron, 215 Se­cu­rity Squadron and 216 Lo­gis­tics Sup­port Squadron. Of the fly­ing units, 211 Squadron op­er­ates the Saab JAS39C and D Gripen, 212 Squadron flies the Aero L-159A ALCA, while the unit we were lucky enough to visit, 213 Squadron, op­er­ates the Aero L-159T1 and L-39ZA in the ad­vanced train­ing role. Here we met 1st Lieu­tenants Radek alud and David Byr­tus, both fly­ing the L-39ZA, who ex­plained the train­ing pro­gramme and the roles the Aero air­craft were used for by their unit and oth­ers in the train­ing sys­tem.

THE PRO­GRAMME

Radek and David be­gan by ex­plain­ing that stu­dent pilots be­gin their train­ing at the Avi­a­tion Train­ing Cen­tre ( CLV) at Par­du­bice. Since 2004, the CLV has been part of LOM Praha s.p., a gov­ern­ment owned com­pany set up us­ing the 34th Air Force Base School as a ba­sis to pro­vide ele­men­tary and ba­sic fly­ing train­ing for both fixed and ro­tary winged stu­dents. Here, the first air­craft a stu­dent flies is the pis­ton en­gined Zlin Z- 142C, on which they com­plete 70 hours of ele­men­tary fly­ing train­ing. Those se­lected for fast jet train­ing then move onto the Aero L-39C, spend­ing the next two years fly­ing 200 hours on the type. This com­pre­hen­sive ba­sic fly­ing train­ing syl­labus teaches the stu­dent all he needs to fly, but from this point on the fo­cus is learn­ing to use an air­craft in op­er­a­tional roles, which is where 213 Squadron with its ad­vanced and weapons train­ing syl­labus comes in. ˇ 213 Squadron took onz­its cur­rent form on De­cem­ber 1, 2013, af­ter a re­or­gan­i­sa­tion of the Czech Air Force. This log­i­cally con­cen­trated the L-39ZAS of 222 Squadron based at Námestˇˇ nad Oslavou with the L-159T1S of 212 Squadron ˇ based at Cáslav into a sin­gle unit. The new unit was in­tended to com­plete the train­ing of stu­dents from the pre­par­ing them for the op­er­a­tionalc units of the air force in an ef­fi­cient and cost ef­fec­tive way, while also sim­pli­fy­ing the lo­gis­tics and main­te­nance sup­port re­quired for the air­craft. The stu­dent be­gins his ad­vanced train­ing on an air­craft he al­ready knows well, the L-39, but in this case, the four L- 39ZAS on 213 Squadron’s strength. The L-39ZA is fit­ted with a twin bar­relled 23mm cannon un­der the for­ward fuse­lage and can carry a range of un­guided rock­ets and bombs, so dur­ing the two years they

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