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Yakovlev Yak-18T

The Yakovlev Yak-18T was developed as an Aeroflot training aircraft and also as a light passenger transport aircraft, with a cabin for one pilot and three passengers. It is not a variant of the Yak-18 as it has very little in common, and was designed from scratch 20 years later.

Country of origin: Russia/USSR
• Cockpit: 2 seats + 2 passenger seats
• Wingspan: 1116cm
• Empty weight: 1217kg
• Max take Off Weight: 1650kg
• Take-off distance: 200m
• Landing distance: 250m
• Max speed: 159kt
• Range: 313nm

Key Features
Four-person occupancy.
Short field take off and landing capability.
Good payload
Fully aerobatic.

Whilst sharing its naming convention with several aircraft developed since the end of the second world War, the Yak-18T is in fact unique and bears little resemblance to earlier models with a similar name and, in fact, can be considered a whole new airframe.  Developed in 1967 the Yak-18T is a multi role utility aircraft designed by the Yakovlev Design Bureau. It is a single engine, monoplane design. The cockpit configuration is such that the pilots can sit side by side. It was primarily deployed as a civilian training aircraft and was so successful that it still remains in production to this day (with a few small gaps in between). Around 700 aircraft have been manufactured by the plant in Smolensk.

The aircraft differs from other aircraft produced by Yakovlev in that they have the ability to accommodate up to four people (including two pilots). Whilst similar in appearance to Western aircraft such as the PA-28 it has unique characteristics that set it apart. It shares some systems that are common to many Yak variants. Namely the use of a pneumatically driven starter system, landing gear and brakes. The aircraft’s performance and handling capabilities are most likely far in excess of its western counterparts. It is heavier, more powerful and has full aerobatic capability.

Like other Yak trainers the aircraft is robust, powerful and forgiving. It is as synonymous to Eastern Bloc flight training as a Cessna is to the West. The Yak-18T was employed as an elementary training aircraft for Russia’s national airline Aeroflot, and has since been exported internationally as a premium cruising aircraft for private individuals. Whilst typically designed with Soviet robustness, the airframe makeup is in fact a hybrid. The fuselage and wings are constructed from strong alloy, the flight control surfaces are treated fabric, the aim being to save weight.

The aircraft is relatively stable and responsive in handling characteristics, with a slow stall onset and easy recovery. It can also be employed as an aerobatic trainer, however it must be noted that sustained inverted flight is not possible without modifications. When performing aerobatics the solid airframe is rated to withstand G-loads from +6G down to -3G. The aircraft landing gear is fully retractable. It is configured in a tricycle style, and as with all training aircraft, is designed to provide an easy way to learn consistent landing technique.

The Yak-18T was designed with versatility in mind. Like many in the Yak series it has the ability to land on paved and unpaved surfaces. It’s power allows takeoffs from very short fields, and likewise it’s landing capability allows easy access to shorter runways. The efficiency and power of this aircraft is further demonstrated in it’s rate of climb which has been quoted between 1000 and 2000 feet per minute.

The versatility of the Yak-18T is further demonstrated by the ability to completely detach the cabin doors to facilitate photographic work or even parachutists to egress, and additional features such as straps on the rudder pedals to secure the pilots feet during negative G maneuvers. 

Aside from previously discussed landing capability, as a touring aircraft the Yak-18T excels. The endurance of the standard aircraft is 313nm, if modified this could be even greater. It’s standard ability to carry a load of up to 400kg means that if loaded intelligently it is possible to fly a respectable range and still carry a significant load.

Sources and further reading