Pilatus has performed the first flight of a PC-21 trainer produced for the United Arab Emirates, ahead of starting deliveries to the Khalifa bin Zayed air college in Al Ain early next year.
Achieved on 22 November, the milestone came exactly one year after the UAE signed a production contract for 25 PC-21s and related equipment worth over SFr500 million ($506 million). "The schedule agreed within the contract was always considered very aggressive but has been achieved exactly as planned," the Swiss manufacturer says.
All images © Pilatus
Conducted from Buochs airfield, the debut sortie included checks of the turboprop's controls, stall and inverted flight characteristics, plus engine restarts at 10,000ft (3,050m).
"Delivery of the 25 PC-21 aircraft and the other key components of the Pilatus training system are scheduled to commence in the first quarter of 2011," the company says.
Previous sales of the PC-21 have seen a combined 25 aircraft delivered to Singapore (19) and Switzerland (6). The latter earlier this year confirmed its intention to expand its fleet by another two examples.
Powered by a Pratt & Whitney PT6A-68B engine, the PC-21 has a maximum operating speed of 370kt (684km/h): around 70kt faster than the PC-7 already used by the UAE.