The Z 42 variants are used for basic and intermediate VFR flight training, for basic aerobatics  training, for night and instrument flight training, and for glider towing.

The aircraft were largely used in former COMECON countries for air club and basic air force training. It was also used by the air forces of Algeria, Mexico and Slovenia.

There have been wing difficulties resulting in restriction of permitted aerobatic flight time for original aircraft. The factory offers a retrofit package of replacement wings and an AMU-1 fatigue monitoring system, which extends overall airframe life to 5 500 hours, all of which may be aerobatic.