Pilatus Aircraft has successfully tested the first of 49 PC-21 trainer aircraft destined for the Australian Defence Force, the company said on Thursday 21 July. The initial production test flight over the Pilatus factory in Stans, Switzerland, came only seven months after contract signature.
Under a contract signed in December 2015 aimed at harmonising Australian Defence Force flight training across all three services – Army, Navy and Air Force – Pilatus will deliver a total of 49 PC-21 which will operate from four Royal Australian Air Force bases. Pilatus will also supply significant elements of ground based training equipment and the in-service support capability.
This first PC-21 will be handed over to the Royal Australian Air Force at East Sale in June 2017 after completion of testing and verification work in both Switzerland and Australia.
The PC-21 aircraft will replace both the aging PC-9 fleet, which has been in service since 1988, and also the CT-4 aircraft currently used for basic training. The PC-9 is due to be withdrawn in 2019 after thirty years of service and more than 500,000 flying hours.
The PC-21s for Australia will form the backbone of future pilot training for the Australian Defence Force for the next 25 years.