Pilatus Aircraft announced that the first of 49 PC-21 aircraft destined for the Australian Defence Force has successfully completed its initial production test flight at the factory in Stans, Switzerland.
The flight took place 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, 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.
Oscar J. Schwenk, Chairman of Pilatus, commented:
“This initial flight of the first Australian PC-21, only seven months after contract signature, is a remarkable achievement and illustrates both the commitment of Pilatus and the hard work of all those involved in the project”.
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 The PC-9 is due to be withdrawn in 2019 after thirty years of service and more than 500,000 flying hours. Originally intended to be withdrawn after 20 years of operation, the extended service life of the PC-9 is testament to Pilatus quality and customer support.
Markus Bucher, CEO of Pilatus, said:
“Having worked directly with the Australian Defence Force for many years, I am delighted to see Pilatus continuing to deliver outstanding service. The first flight of this aircraft, the very first Australian PC-21, marks a very significant chapter in the continuing relationship between the Commonwealth and Pilatus. We look forward to many more.”
The PC-21s for Australia will form the backbone of future pilot training for the Australian Defence Force for the next 25 years.