DALLAS – Today in Aviation, The prototype of the Let L-410 Turbolet (registration OK-60), then known as the XL-410, took to the skies on its maiden flight in 1969. At the controls were Let pilots Vladimir Vik and Ing. František Svinka.
The aircraft is a 15-seat, unpressurised, high-wing regional airliner powered by the Walter M601 engine. However, delays in the development of the power plant led to early models being powered by the Pratt & Whitney PT6-27 engines.
Development of the airliner, initially known as the L-400, began in the early 1960s after a request from the Russian flag carrier, Aeroflot (SU), to design a replacement for its Antonov An-2 biplane.
Following certification of the prototypes, the airliner was put into production in 1971. Let also used the prototype examples to promote the new turboprop at air shows, including the 1969 Paris/Le Bourget Air Show. It entered service with CSA Czechoslovakian Airlines (OK) in 1971.
Over the years, numerous upgraded variants of the type have been built. Unhappy with the prototype’s performance, Russian flag-carrier Aeroflot (SU) wanted an upgraded variant.
This was known as the L-410 UVP (Ukorochennaya vzlot-posadka – meaning short take-off and landing STOL). Let modified it with a larger wingspan and increased tail area. This gave much-improved STOL performance. This is the most popular variant, and over 1,000 of this model have been built.
In 2015, the manufacturer unveiled an upgraded version known as the L-410 Next Generation (NG). Upgraded General Electric H80 engines powered it with AV-725 propellers. Its avionics were upgraded, and it also had a new wing, more luggage space, and larger fuel tanks.
Featured image: Manx2 was a short-lived virtual airline based on the Isle of Man which operated a number of Let L-410s. Photo: John Wheatley (GFDL 1.2 or GFDL 1.2 ), via Wikimedia Commons