The Black Diamond Jet Team is poised to get more pep.
Aero Vodochody has partnered with Williams International to offer “next generation upgrades” for the L-39 Albatros, used by various civilian operators including performers and providers of advanced training. The upgrade package replaces the AI-25TL engine with the Williams FJ44-4M, reducing fuel consumption by about 15 percent, reducing maintenance costs and turnaround time, reducing weight, and improving acceleration time. The FJ44-4M reaches maximum power in three to five seconds, compared to a 9- to 12-second lag in the previous engine, according to Draken International, parent of the Black Diamond Jet Team which operates formations of Aero Vodochody L-39s on the airshow circuit. Draken and the team are based in Lakeland, Florida; Draken has an agreement with Aero Vodochody to offer the upgrade program in the Americas.
"Draken International has a long-standing relationship with Aero Vodochody and we are pleased to extend this partnership with this upgrade order as well as our distinction of being the first export customer of the Aero L-159E Advanced Light Combat Aircraft (ALCA),” Draken International CEO Jared Isaacman said in a June news release. The L-39NG program was first announced in April, and also includes installation of new digital instruments, overhauled ejection seats, and a full check of all systems (“inspect, repair as necessary”) that brings each aircraft up to current standards.
The program also includes "support by the hour" maintenance, covering both scheduled and unscheduled maintenance including foreign object damage repair. The Williams engine also speeds up maintenance turnaround, with major periodic inspections completed in four weeks, compared to four to six months for overhaul of the previous powerplant.
Draken International also provides “tactical flight support” for military customers with a fleet of more than 70 fighters billed as the largest private fleet of ex-military aircraft in the world.