Enaer is restarting production of the T-35 Pillan basic trainer and making a renewed push to launch a turboprop version as Latin American interest in the Chilean aircraft picks up again.

Enaer has started work on four 225kW (300hp) Lycoming IO540-powered T-35s after a 12-month production break. The Dominican Republic took delivery of the last eight aircraft early last year, but has an outstanding requirement for four more. Other operators, such as El Salvador, also need attrition replacements. The first new-build aircraft could be delivered in six to eight months.

"At the FIDAE air show [27 March-2 April], I'll be talking with other Central American countries that have an interest in buying more Pillans. I now have four in production and 12 in my business plan for the year. We think we may be able to manufacture up to 100 more," says Enaer executive director Brig Gen Alfredo Guzman.

Pillan production to date totals 126 aircraft for seven countries, including 40 delivered to Spain and 10 to Paraguay. Guatemala and El Salvador each recently acquired five reconditioned T-35s from the Chilean air force, while efforts are under way to restore six grounded Panamanian examples.

Enaer also plans to renew efforts to find a launch customer for the T-35DT Turbo Pillan. The tandem-seat aircraft was re-engined with a 312kW (420shp) Rolls-Royce 250 turboprop and is capable of flying up to 180kt (335km/h). There is also provision for underwing hardpoints.

"There are at least two countries interested in the Turbo Pillan," says Guzman, who adds that, at under $1 million apiece, the aircraft is two to three times cheaper than an Embraer EMB-312 Tucano or Pilatus PC-7.

Proposed applications include anti-narcotics and forest-fire watch. The Dominican Republic has requested information about its offshore patrol potential.

Source: Flight International