The factory Let (from 1957 to 1967 - SPP) in Kunovice manufactured the two-engine touring aircraft Aero Ae 45 under licence from Aero in the 1950s. A newly created in 1955 construction bureau, led by Ladislav Smrček, decided to design its own, more modern five-seat touring aircraft. It was initially decided to use the new 210 hp M-337 engines, but since it was not ready, the prototype was fitted with less powerful 160 hp Walter Minor 6-III engines.
The first prototype designated XL-200 (OK-LNA) flew on 9 April 1957, followed by the second prototype (OK-LNB) and another for static trials. The plane had very elegant, slim lines. In the same year, 10 pre-series aircraft L-200 were manufactured. One of them underwent state trials in 1958. The aircraft was successful and ordered into production. One L-200 was converted into a prototype of M-337-powered serial variant L-200A. Changes were minor, mostly new two-blade propellers V-410, cockpit lowered by 43 mm, modified tailfin shape and longer engine nacelles. It was completed in 1959 and shown in the Paris Air Show in July of that year. After being fitted with M-337 engines in autumn 1959, it underwent state trials, completed successfully in July. The first serial plane L-200A was flown in February 1960.
L-200B and C models were not produced. The second production variant was the L-200D, modified according to Russian Aeroflot demands. It was fitted with new three-blade propellers V-506 of a smaller diameter and some minor improvements, such as dust filters. It also received more comprehensive navigation equipment. The prototype (OK-NIA) was converted from the L-200A prototype in 1960 and tested in 1961-1963.
In all, 367 L-200s were built by 1964, including 3 prototypes and 197 L-200D (eight L-200A and the L-200A prototype were converted to L-200D as well). 5 aircraft were manufactured from parts by Libis in Yugoslavia.
A further development was 6-place L-210 (also known as L-201; registration OK-PHB), converted from one L-200D in 1966, powered with 245 hp M-338 engines, but it was not ordered by the airlines and was not produced.
Aeroflot, who used them as air taxis, was the largest single user of Moravas - 68 L-200A and 113 L-200D, final deliveries taking place in 1966. In the 1970s however, the Soviet Union sold or withdrew its aircraft from use, in favour of indigenous designs.
About 100 Moravas were used for civilian purposes in Czechoslovakia by aeroclubs Svazarm (about 50), the airlines Agrolet (from 1969 Slov-Air) and Czechoslovak Airlines (45) and by businesses, such as Škoda. 20 were used by the Czechoslovak Air Force (16 of which L-200A), among others, for training. About 50 were sold to Poland, where they were used mostly as air ambulances and in aeroclubs. Some other countries had smaller fleets of Moravas.
144 L-200A were exported to 15 countries. They were used in Australia, Argentina, Cuba, Hungary, West Germany, Great Britain, Egypt, India, Italy, Poland, South Africa, USSR and Yugoslavia. L-200D were exported to Bulgaria, Cuba, Egypt, France, Hungary, GDR, Great Britain, India, Indonesia, Italy, Poland, Switzerland, Sweden, USSR and Yugoslavia.
Small number of Moravas are still used (as of 2008), mainly in Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland.
Published - July 2009
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