Chilean aircraft manufacturer Enaer is attempting to breathe new life into the turboprop-powered derivative of its Pillán ab initio trainer, with an eye on the South American drug-interdiction aircraft market.
The counterdrug version of the T-35DT Turbo Pillán offers existing T-35 operators a border surveillance platform that is easy to maintain and operate, says Enaer operations chief Maximo Bascuñan.
A FLIR Systems Ultra 7500 forward-looking infrared sensor is installed on the underside of the aircraft's left wing, attached to a Broadcast Microwave Services datalink system. Flight trials of a prototype aircraft were carried out in northern Chile earlier this year.
After completing the 90h test programme, Enaer is demonstrating the FLIR-equipped T-35DT to potential operators.
Although the Chilean armed forces and local enforcement agencies have no stated requirement for border surveillance aircraft, Enaer thinks domestic prospects are good.
Bascuñan says neighbouring Latin American countries - especially those already operating the 300hp (224kW) Lycoming IO-540-powered version of the Pillán - are prime candidates for the new derivative.