Pilatus reported the maiden flight of the first of 49 PC-21 aircraft destined for the Australian Defence Force on 21st July at Stans, Switzerland. The flight took place 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-21s 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.
Lockheed Martin, as the programme prime contractor, will provide overall project management for the pilot training system and deliver a family of integrated ground-based training technologies. Pilatus Aircraft will provide the PC-21 aircraft and through-life engineering and airworthiness support. Hawker Pacific will provide maintenance services and fleet support and leverage its established supply chain in Australia.
This first PC-21, registered as A54-001, 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.
Under the AIR 5428 project 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 The PC-9 is due to be withdrawn in 2019 after thirty years of service and more than 500,000 flying hours.