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Australian Air Force receives final PC-21 training aircraft

Royal Australian Air Force file photo of a PC-21

The final of 49 aircraft from the Air Force Pilatus PC-21 fleet has been officially welcomed at Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Base East Sale in Victoria.

The advanced pilot training aircraft is being acquired as part of the Australian AU$1.5 billion AIR5428 project.

Defense minister Linda Reynolds congratulated Lockheed Martin, Pilatus and Jet Aviation for delivering the fleet.

“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.

“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,” minister for veterans and defense personnel Darren Chester added.

“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 PC-21 replaces the 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.

The Pilatus PC-21 is equipped with a pressurized 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 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.