The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) took delivery of its final Pilatus PC-21 turboprop trainer aircraft at RAAF Base East Sale in Victoria.
The PC-21 is one of the world’s most advanced turboprop pilot training aircraft and is a key component of the Australian Government’s $1.5 billion AIR5428 Pilot Training System project. The PC-21 replaces the Air Force’s PC-9/A aircraft, which is concluding its 30-year service at the end of the year, having successfully trained thousands of aircrew across all three services.
Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds congratulated Defence, Lockheed Martin, Pilatus and Jet Aviation for delivering the fleet of 49 aircraft.
“This Pilot Training System will ensure young pilots looking to serve in the Australian Defence Force (ADF) have access to the latest facilities and training,” Minister Reynolds said. “This investment is part of our Government’s commitment to continue producing highly skilled and talented personnel across the Navy, Army and Air Force.”
Minister for Veterans and Defence Personnel Darren Chester joined members of the ADF, and industry leaders, to mark the milestone with an impressive display from the Air Force aerobatics team, the Roulettes.
“Undergraduate pilots at RAAF Bases East Sale and Pearce will now be able to use the best equipment along with a new tailored Pilot Training System, which will meet their needs and those of future recruits,” Mr Chester said. “The new system can train more people faster and to a higher standard and will ensure undergraduate pilots develop the necessary skills before moving to more advanced military aircraft.
“From early 2020, the PC-21 will also be used for flight test and evaluation at RAAF Base Edinburgh and forward air control at RAAF Base Williamtown.”
The Pilatus PC-21 is equipped with a pressurised cockpit, air conditioning, an anti-G system, and on-board oxygen generation. It is capable of sustained low-level speeds over 320 knots, and hydraulically assisted ailerons and roll spoilers can produce fighter-like rates of roll in excess of 200 degrees per second.
A digital power management system and automatic yaw compensation makes the PC-21 easy to fly in the circuit, while still providing the performance required for advanced training.
The capabilities of the PC-21 make it ideally suited to a very wide training scope. It can be used from day one in the training system, eliminating the need for an elementary flying training fleet, but also bridges the performance gap between traditional turboprop trainers and lead-in fighters.
• 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)