Let L-200D Morava

Let L-200D Morava (c/n 171206, OK-NXX), flying display during an open doors event in Aeroklub Jaroměř, May 2015.

In 1955, aviation plant in Kunovice, then known as Strojírny první pětiletky (Machine Works of the First Five-year-plan – later LET Kunovice), launched development works on a successor of Aero Ae-45/145 utility aircraft.

The company construction team, led by Ladislav Smrček, designed a five-seat, low-wing aircraft of smooth shape and modern look. Its initial specification assumed the aeroplane would be powered by a pair of Walter M-337 engines, each of them generating 210 hp. However, at the time of building the first prototype of the aircraft, the engines were still under development. Therefore, Walter Minor 6-III powerplants of 160 hp each had to be used instead.

The prototype of the new Czechoslovak utility aircraft successfully completed its maiden flight on 9th April 1957, flown by test pilot Ladislav Šváb. It was followed by making two more prototypes, for flight and static trials, as well as a short, pre-production series of ten aeroplanes. All these aircraft, now officially designated L-200 Morava, were also made with Walter Minor 6-III engines.

As expected, series of test flights and further evaluations of the pre-production series proved the engines were not powerful enough for the L-200. Nevertheless, in 1958 the Morava was approved for serial production and offered for foreign customers. Yet in the same year, two aeroplanes from the zero-production run were sent to Moscow, to be assessed by the Soviet aviation authorities.

Only in 1960, the final aircraft from the pre-production series was re-equipped with the M-337 engines and new, two-blade propellers. On 27th February that year, modernized variant of the Morava, now designated L-200A, performed its first flight.

In June of 1960, the L-200A was exhibited at Paris Air Show, where it was met with great interest. Shortly after, serial production of the aircraft was launched. The A variant was being manufactured until 1961 with total number of 150 aeroplanes built.

In August of 1961, another upgrade of the Morava made its first flight. The aircraft, now designated L-200D was equipped with new, three-blade propellers, modernized hydraulic installation, dust filters and upgraded navigation instruments.

The L-200 was being widely used in Czechoslovakia as utility and training aircraft. Several aeroplanes of both A and D versions were sold to the Eastern Bloc and even Western countries. The Moravas flew in most of the European countries but also in Australia, South Africa, India, Egypt, Argentina, Cuba and the USA (where one example of the L-200 came from Cuba, after being hijacked to Florida).

Interesting fact is that in 1964, five L-200 aircraft were assembled in Yugoslavia by Libis company from Ljubljana. In Poland, some Moravas were adapted for air ambulance service.

There were 361 examples of the L-200 build, of all variants and including prototypes and zero-production series. One example was re-arranged into a six-seat variant, designated L-210. Nevertheless, that aircraft never went beyond the prototype stage and finally was resumed to the standard, D-variant, configuration. Production of the Morava was ceased in 1964.

The L-200D aircraft featured within our Photo of the Week series, was built in 1962. That aeroplane initially flew in Hungary (as HA-LDA) until 1996, then spent a few years in Poland (as SP-NXX). In November of 2002 it returned to the country of its origin and was registered as OK-NXX.