Leonardo to Supply Range of Electronics for Spanish Air Force PC-21 Trainer Aircraft

Leonardo has been awarded a contract to supply a range of electronics for the Pilatus PC-21 single-engine turboprop trainer aircraft of the Spanish Air Force (Ejército del Aire), the company announced.

The contract was awarded by the aircraft manufacturer, Pilatus Aircraft Ltd of Switzerland, and is for the supply of airborne communications systems, cockpit control panels and associated electronics for installation onboard Spanish PC-21 turboprops.

The aircraft were ordered by the Spanish Ministry of Defense through its Armament and Material Directorate (DGAM) to replace the Spanish Air Force’s current CASA C-101 jet trainers, which have been in use since 1980s.

Leonardo’s multiband V/UHF RT-700/A communications system is a compact and lightweight military ETSO (European Technical Standard Order)-certified product. It provides voice and data communications in the 30-470MHz range and can transmit and receive securely when connected to an external encryption unit. Notably, the product provides ETSO-certified communications in the VHF ATC band (25/8,33kHz).

The contract further strengthens Leonardo’s long-established partnership with Pilatus Aircraft. The Swiss aerospace manufacturer previously selected Leonardo avionics and lights/panels for PC-21 aircraft ordered by customers in Switzerland, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Australia.

The Spanish Air Force is the third European air force to choose the PC-21 Next Generation Trainer after Switzerland and France.

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.

Pilatus PC-21
Pilatus PC-21 trainer aircraft. Copyright©2008 Katsuhiko TOKUNAGA/DACT/Pilatus.

The aircraft features a tandem-seating arrangement (student in-front/instructor behind) in a bird strike-resistant glass canopy with all-round 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 PC-21 is powered by a single 1,600 shp Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-68B turboprop engine, which drives a five-bladed graphite Hartzell scimitar propeller on the aircraft’s nose; it has been claimed by Pilatus that the PC-21 possesses speed and climb rates previously normally performed only by jet-powered aircraft.

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.

The type can be applied for various training capacities, including basic flying training, advanced flight training, full mission management training, and embedded simulation/emulation.

Ten customers have bought 235 PC-21s since its maiden flight in 2002.

PC-21 General Specifications (from RAAF):

• Manufacturer: Pilatus
• Role: Pilot training
• Crew: Instructor and student
• Engine: Pratt and Whitney PT6A-68B turboprop (1600 shaft horsepower)
• Airframe: Length – 11.2 m, height – 3.8 m
• Wingspan: 9.1 m
• Weight: 2280 kg basic, 4250 kg maximum
• Range: 1,333 km
• Ceiling: 25,000 feet
• Max. Speed: 685 km/h (370 knots)



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