Empire Test Pilots’ School Takes Delivery of its First Pilatus PC-21 Trainer Aircraft

Empire Test Pilots’ School (ETPS), a British training school for test pilots and flight test engineers, has taken delivery of its first Pilatus PC-21 trainer aircraft.

On 17 July, Markus Bucher, CEO of Pilatus, presented a traditional Swiss souvenir to Steve Wadey, CEO of QinetiQ Group Plc, at Farnborough International Air Show to commemorate the delivery and handover of first PC-21.

Under the contract concluded in 2016, Pilatus is to provide two PC-21s to the Empire Test Pilots’ School based at MoD Boscombe Down in Wiltshire, England. The second PC-21 will be delivered in the fourth quarter of 2018 and will be used for test pilot training courses commencing early in 2019.

The acquisition of the two PC-21s forms a key part of a transformation and modernisation project currently underway at ETPS. The two PC-21s have been produced with a fully integrated Flight Test Instrumentation capability for use by ETPS in training test pilots and flight test engineers.

ETPS functions as a training centre for flight test engineers and test pilots of fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft, and enjoys an excellent reputation worldwide. ETPS is run by the MoD and defence contractor QinetiQ under a long-term agreement.

ETPS was established in 1943, the first of its type. The school moved to RAF Cranfield in October 1945, then to Royal Aircraft Establishment, Farnborough in July 1947, before returning to Boscombe Down on 29 January 1968.

Steve Wadey commented: “We are delighted to see a PC-21 operating in the UK for the first time. These aircraft will have a primary role in the training syllabus. We are very pleased that, with Pilatus support, we are on track to deliver new training services for the benefit of our customers.”

Markus Bucher said: “We are extremely proud that our PC-21s were selected for the prestigious Empire Test Pilots’ School. QinetiQ is the ninth member of the family of PC-21 operators. We are confident that the many international test pilots who will fly in these PC-21 aircraft in UK skies will benefit from continuing investment in the development of this trainer aircraft. With the PC-21, the best future test pilots will be trained with the world’s most capable training system.”

Pilatus PC-21

The Pilatus PC-21 is a turboprop-powered single-engine advanced trainer aircraft with a stepped tandem cockpit, manufactured by Pilatus Aircraft of Switzerland.

The PC-21 is powered by a single 1,600 shaft horse power Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-68B turboprop engine, which drives a five-bladed graphite Hartzell scimitar propeller on the aircraft’s nose.

The aircraft features a tandem-seating arrangement (student in-front/instructor behind) in a bird strike-resistant glass canopy with allround vision. The cabin, which is pressurized, is equipped with an On-Board Oxygen Generation System (OBOGS), air conditioning, and Martin-Baker CH16C Zero-Zero ejection seats.

The type can be applied for various training capacities, including basic flying training, advanced flight training, full mission management training, and embedded simulation/emulation. A key feature of the PC-21 is the embedded simulation and training suite, which provides cross-platform cockpit emulation, weapons simulation, stores management system, simulated radar and electronic warfare, a tactical situation display, and data link functionality.

Pilatus has also developed a fully integrated training system to accompany the PC-21. It comprises the latest simulators, computer-based training and pilot classroom instruction.

Nine customers have bought 211 PC-21s since its maiden flight in 2002.

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