Spanish Air Force Procures 24 Pilatus PC-21 Trainer Aircraft

Swiss aircraft manufacturer, Pilatus has announced an order to supply 24 PC-21 next-generation trainer aircraft to the Spanish Air Force (Ejército del Aire).

The single-engine turboprop trainer aircraft will replace Spain’s current CASA C-101 jet trainers which is in operation since the 1980s.

“After a long and extremely professional evaluation, Pilatus beat several prestigious competitors to win the tender with the PC-21”, said a company statement.

The contract, which is worth over 200 million euros, was signed on January 30, 2020, with the Spanish Ministry of Defence’s Dirección General de Armamento y Material (DGAM, “Armament and Material Directorate”). Comprising an integrated training system, the order includes simulators developed and produced by Pilatus, spare parts and logistics support in addition to the PC-21 aircraft.

“As a small Swiss aircraft manufacturer I’m delighted at our repeated success in winning through over large, international competitors. This result is proof that, with our PC-21, we can deliver the very best training system in the world”, said Oscar J. Schwenk, Chairman of Pilatus.

“I’m delighted to see us win a new air force to add to our existing customer portfolio. We shall provide Ejército del Aire with the first-class customer service they are entitled to expect from Pilatus. Bienvenidos a Pilatus y muchas gracias por elegir el PC-21 – viva España!”

The PC-21 will provide Spain with the most advanced training system currently on offer, and will also deliver a cost-effective, ecologically viable training platform. Experience with existing PC-21 customers has shown that the cost of training for a military pilot can be reduced by over 50 percent with the PC-21. These single-engine turboprop aircraft require much less fuel than any comparable jet trainer.

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, All Rights Reserved

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 (EW), 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 (nine Air Forces and UK’s Empire Test Pilot School) 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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