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 The PC-9 is due to be withdrawn in 2019 after thirty years of service and more than 500,000 flying hours.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.
Australia is set to place a follow-on order for the Boeing CH-47F Chinook. Three more of the heavy-lift helicopters are about to make their way to the Royal Australian Army, joining the seven already in service.
The US State Department notified the US Congress of the planned military sale worth US$180 million. The choppers will be equipped with the Common Missile Warning Systems (CMWS), Honeywell H-764 gps/nav systems, infrared signature suppression systems and more standard systems. Pilots enjoy a full digital cockpit.
The Chinooks can carry 33 fully-equipped troops, besides the standard crew of four (2 pilots, loadmaster, air crew) over a maximum range of 372 miles (600 km) at speeds up to 170 knots (315 km/h or 195 mph).
All Chinooks are flown by the Australian Army’s 5th Aviation Regiment, 16th Aviation Brigade, from RAAF Townsville in northern Queensland, Australia. The airfield is situated a few miles north of the Lavarack Barracks, a major Australian Army ground units base.
Australia on Tuesday 8 December finally signed the deal for the delivery of 49 Pilatus PC-21 turboprop trainers as part of a pilot training program contract awarded to Lockheed Martin. The PC-21 was selected as the aircaft of choice earlier in 2015.
Australia is no stranger to the PC-21, as the training platform has been in service with the Republic of Singapore Air Force at RAAF Base Pearce in Western Australia since 2008. The PC-21 is also operated by the air forces of Switzerland, the UAE, Saudi-Arabia and Qatar. With this latest order 180 aircraft have been sold.
The PC-21 replaces the PC-9 in Australian service, which was introduced Down Under in 1987. Pilot training in the aircraft commenced in 1989. All were built under license by Hawker de Havilland in Sydney.
The PC-21’s for Australia will be delivered commencing June 2017 and will form the backbone of pilot training for the Australian Defence Force (ADF) for the next 25 years.
Austrian Airlines has sold its entire fleet of 15 Fokker 100 and six Fokker 70 aircraft to Alliance Aviation Services Limited in Australia, making that company the largest operator of both types. In Austria, Embraer 195 jets will take the place of the Fokkers starting next January, rejuvenating the airline’s mediumhaul fleet.
The transaction is valued at 15 million USD and includes an issue of new shares in Alliance and a cash component. Austrian Airlines will gradually terminate its use of the Fokker jets and deliver them to Alliance Aviation over the next two years. Deployment of the Embraer aircraft will take place simultaneously.
The Embraer jets are not new and have an average age of four years, compared to the average age of about 21 years of the Fokker fleet. “The replacement of the Fokker fleet with Embraer aircraft will serve to significantly rejuvenate our fleet and offer Austrian Airlines better unit costs”, explains Austrian Airlines CEO Kay Kratky.
Alliance Aviation already operates 15 Fokker 100 and eight Fokker 70 aircraft and says it will be the largest global operator of these types of aircraft. The company operates bases in Brisbane, Townsville, Cairns, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth and Auckland.
Boeing delivered the seventh CH-47F Chinook to the Australian Army last month, three weeks ahead of schedule, supporting modernization of Australia’s cargo helicopter fleet and eventually replacing the Commonwealth’s six older CH-47D Chinooks. The seven advanced Chinooks were ordered as part of contract signed in 2012.
Australia has one of the most advanced and highly capable Chinook fleets in the world. Major developments on the CH-47F include a digital cockpit, an advanced communications system and new avionics. Those allow the Australian Army to operate more effectively with international forces. The Australian Chinook configuration also includes a new rotor brake that enables shipboard operations by actively stopping the rotor blades rather than allowing the blades to naturally ‘spin down’ once the engine is turned off after landing.
“Our CH-47D Chinooks have been real workhorses for Australia, both here and on operations overseas, and our new CH-47F Chinooks are set to be even more dependable, affordable and capable assets,” said Rear Admiral Tony Dalton of Australia’s Department of Defence. “We are very pleased with how Boeing and the United States Army have worked together to deliver this important capability to Australia ahead of schedule and on budget.”
The Australian Army’s 5th Aviation Regiment, 16th Aviation Brigade, operates the Chinooks from their home base in northern Queensland, Australia. Boeing Defence Australia will provide on-site operational maintenance support for the CH-47F aircraft, having supported the CH-47D since 2010.
Boeing is also providing Australia with EA-18G Growler, P-8A Maritime Surveillance Aircraft, F/A-18 Super Hornet, E-7 Wedgetail Airborne Early Warning and Control System and C-17 Globemaster IIIs.