Here in South Africa we regularly see full-size L-39 Albatross taking part at airshows and even attending fly-ins and many times I hear someone say, “I wish I could afford a machine like that”. Well now you can, not exactly a full scale jet but a very good replica that fits in the Light Sport Aircraft category.
The UL-39 Albi uses a high-revving BMW SR1000RR motorcycle engine producing 193Hp to drive a 13-blade impeller nestled in the fuselage aft of the tandem-seated occupants.
With Albi’s 7,2m wingspan and retractable landing gear the BMW powerplant can push the aircraft to speeds of 140 knots. Stall is a modest 35 knots and comfortably cruise at 124 knots. Therefore UL-39 is no slouch but neither is it a military-grade jet. To keep the ducted fan rotating at an optimal rate, the engine will have to turn 12,000 rpm continuously, this would illuminate most conventional power plants from use in the UL-39.
The carbon-fibre composite construction was done by LA Composite. Assembly of the pieces was achieved by Skyleader, a producer of Light-Sport Aircraft such as the Skyleader 600 among several other designs. This ambitious LSA company also has a versatile full-motion flight simulator that can be made to function with a wide variety of aircraft designs.
First test flight took place on 4 April 2016 by Radim Sterba, Skyleader test pilot. The UL-39 Albi airframe, ducted fan and many other components are made from pre-preg carbon fibre composite which has been autoclaved for maximum strength.
The price is estimated at Euro 180,000, that would put it in the R3 million vicinity, it is still pretty steep for an LSA but for the aspiring “Jet Jock” the exhilaration of flying an aircraft so closely resembling a fighter it may just be worth it.
Engine type: BMW S1000RR
Maximum power: 193 HP
Vne: 162 knots
Vh: 140 knots
Vc: 124 knots
Vs0 35 knots
Basic empty weight: 322 kg
Fuel capacity: 100 L
Endurance: 2.5 hours
Range: 297 nm