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Spain becomes largest European PC-21 operator with new 16 airframe order

Spain becomes the largest operator of Pilatus PC-21s
Photo: Pilatus

The Spanish Air Force has ordered an additional 16 PC-21 trainer aircraft from Pilatus Aircraft, adding to the 24 airframes ordered in early 2020.

The 16-airframe contract comes after the Spanish Air Force recently announced its intention to purchase additional aircraft. With the latest order, Spain will become the owner of a total of 40 PC-21 aircraft and one of the largest PC-21 operators.

The majority of the new airframes will be delivered to the Academia General del Aire (AGA) in San Javier, while two aircraft will be delivered to the Centro Logístico de Armamento y Experimentación (CLAEX) near Madrid for experimental, flight test, research, and development activities.

According to the Swiss airplane manufacturer Pilatus, the order also includes a PC-21 simulator, two cockpit procedure trainers, mission planning and debriefing systems, and pilot training software.

Spanish Air Force pilots began training on the new aircraft in the summer of 2022 after it first flew in December 2020. The aircraft currently serves for both basic and elementary training.

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.

Spanish Air Force PC-21 turboprop trainer
Spanish Air Force PC-21 during its first flight. Photo: Pilatus Aircraft

“Now in use with the Spanish Air and Space Force for over 18 months, the PC-21 integrated training system far exceeds our expectations. Its reliable and efficient powerplant, aerodynamics, safety systems and avionics make the PC-21 a highly versatile trainer, capable of performing any phase of flight training from the most elementary to the most advanced,” Lieutenant Colonel Ildefonso Martínez-Pardo González, Academia General del Aire (AGA) Air Operations Group Commander, commented.