MIAMI – Today in Aviation, the prototype of the Yakovlev trijet Yak-40 took to the air for the first time in 1966. It would be produced until 1981.

The type’s brainchild was the JSC A.S. Yakovlev Design Bureau, a Russian aircraft designer, and manufacturer founded by Soviet aeronautical engineer Alexander Sergeyevich Yakovlev in 1934. However, some date the birth of the design outlet on 12 May 1927, the day of maiden flight of the AIR-1. 

The Yak-40 had been developed after a request was made by the Russian state carrier Aeroflot (SU) for a replacement for its aging piston-engined aircraft. The new model would need to operate safely out of poorly equipped airfields with short, unpaved runways.

During WWII, Yakovlev had produced a number of military aircraft with similar specifications. Various designs were looked at including vertical take-off and landing types, powered by both turboprop and jet engines.

The Yak-40 proved popular with airlines outside of Russia. Malev Hungarian Airlines (MA) operated five of the type between 1987 and 1994. (Photo: Udo Haafke (GFDL 1.2 http://www.gnu.org/licenses/old-licenses/fdl-1.2.html or GFDL 1.2 http://www.gnu.org/licenses/old-licenses/fdl-1.2.html), via Wikimedia Commons)

Final Design


A low-wing, large T-tail aircraft with a short pressurized fuselage was the final design. Three Ivchenko AI-25 engines, mounted at the rear of the fuselage powered the jet. A maximum of 32 passengers could be carried in a four-abreast seating arrangement. However, standard seating saw between 24 and 27 passengers in a three-abreast configuration.

Production began in 1967 at the Saratov Aviation Plant and certification in Russia was granted a year later. The airliner later became the first Soviet-built aircraft to be granted airworthiness certificates in the Western world including West Germany and Italy.

Aeroflot put type was put into revenue service on September 30, 1968. By 1980 the Yak-40 was operating 276 domestic airports across Russia. In December 1980 the carrier became the launch customer for the upgraded and stretched Yak-42.

IN April 2004, aircraft manufacturer Irkut acquired Yakovlev. As of July 2019, a total of 22 out of 1011 Yakovlev Yak-40 aircraft remained in service with civil operators.


Feature image: The Yak-40 found a second life with military operators and was used as a state transporter. (Photo: Peter Bakema (GFDL 1.2 or GFDL 1.2 ), via Wikimedia Commons)