Grob Aircraft mounted a major push for its G120TP basic trainer at this year's Avalon air show, with its stand including a simulator for the type, as it eyes an upcoming requirement to replace the Royal Australian Air Force's fleet of 63 Pilatus PC-9/9As.
Andre Hiebeler, chief executive of Grob Aircraft, says the G120TP can "eat into" up to 60-70% of the syllabus provided by higher-end tandem-seat turboprop aircraft such as the Pilatus PC-21, which is also likely to compete for the Australian deal.
Canberra's requirement is designated AIR 5428, and calls for a complete training solution, including simulators and aircraft. Grob envisages the RAAF using the G120TP in conjunction with a more advanced basic trainer type.
Hiebeler notes that only 45% of pilots trained by the Australian military end up in the air force. Of these, only a small portion transition to fighters such as the Boeing F/A-18 Hornet or F/A-18F Super Hornet. The majority become transport aircraft or helicopter pilots, making the G120TP, with its side-by-side configuration, a suitable training platform.
Hiebeler claims the G120TP's operating costs are far below those of higher-powered basic trainers. The aircraft has maximum continuous power of 380shp (283kW), which is considerably below that of rival types.
A request for proposals for the AIR 5428 requirement has yet to be issued, but Grob believes it could come by the end of 2013.
The RAAF's current PC-9s were delivered between 1987 and 1992, as recorded by Flightglobal's MiliCAS database.