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 The PC-9 is due to be withdrawn in 2019 after thirty years of service and more than 500,000 flying hours.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 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.
© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest
In Switzerland, the second Pilatus PC-24 prototype P02 took off from Buochs Airport on Monday 16 November for its maiden flight. The aircraft flew across Central Switzerland for a total of 82 minutes. Following on from the maiden flight of the first PC-24 prototype (P01) in May of this year, this first flight by P02 marks another step forward in the Pilatus PC-24 development program, Pilatus reports.
PO2 is the second PC-24 to join the test flight programme comprising a total of around 2,300 hours in the air. After completing initial test flights in Switzerland, P02 will be deployed mainly in the USA and in Canada, where it will undergo various systems tests and certification flights in partnership with the systems suppliers. Special scrutiny will be accorded to the avionics systems and the autopilot, but the programme will also include cold weather trials and icing tests.
Flights with the first prototype, the P01, have gone as planned thus far. The aircraft has completed a total of 143 hours in 87 flights since May. Numerous aerodynamic tests have been carried out in the air, including tests to determine slow-flight handling, centre of gravity and flutter testing, as well as high-altitude flights. An average of 15 points were tested during each flight. This comprehensive programme of airborne tests was supplemented by exhaustive ground testing.
Certification and delivery of the first series production aircraft to customers is planned from the third quarter of 2017. Furthermore, a 1:1 model of the PC-24 will be on display at the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) in Las Vegas from 17 to 19 November.
Pilatus Aircraft has handed over the 75th PC-7 MkII turboprop trainer to the Indian Air Force (IAF) at the Air Force Academy in Dundigal, the Swiss company reported on Tuesday 10 November. The delivery is also the final under a contract singed between Pilatus and India on 24 May 2012. The introduction of the PC-7 MkII revolutionized basic pilot training for the Indian Air Force, Pilatus states.
The first trainer arrived in India in February 2013. Since then, the fleet has flown more than 40,000 hours and accumulated well over 80,000 landings. The PC-7 MkII enabled the IAF to increase the basic training syllabus in terms of flight hours by 220 percent compared to previous operations and also increase the solo content from 1 to 14 sorties.
Commenting on the delivery of the 75th aircraft with its “commemorative livery”, Jim Roche VP Government Aviation & Deputy CEO of Pilatus said: “We are extremely pleased to have completed delivery of all PC-7 MkII trainer aircraft well ahead of the original IAF schedule requirement. Delivering and supporting the IAF’s Basic Flight Training requirements has been a remarkable experience and we remain fully committed to supporting the fleet’s in-service operations with equal efficiency and competence.”
© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Dennis Spronk
Featured image (top): The 75th and final PC-7 MkII for the Indian Air Force over typical Swiss mountains. (Image © Pilatus Aircraft Ltd)
Next May, the first of ten Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) Pilatus PC-7 turboprop trainer aircraft will return to its Swiss birthplace of Stans for an update of its analogue cockpit. Student pilots will be presented with a digital cockpit in the future.
The RNLAF owns a 13-strong fleet of Pilatus PC-7 trainers, the first of which were delivered in 1989. The air force plans to use the aircraft as a platform for basic flight training for quite some time to come. Service life should last until 2027 at least.
The update also involves reinforcements to the wings and landing gear, securing another 60,000 flight hours for the modernized fleet in total. The update for the remaining three trainers is still being discussed.
© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest
Featured image: A RNLAF PC-7 in its element. (Image © Ministerie van Defensie)