Poland's first modernised PZL-130 Orlik trainer was unveiled at the PZL Warszawa - Okecie facility of Airbus Military on 22 September.

Dubbed the Orlik TC-II, the aircraft features a Pratt & Whitney PT6-25C engine, which replaces its original Walter M601T, plus new wings, Garmin avionics and rearranged cockpit instruments.

The upgrades result in the Orlik TC-II having an improved climb rate, an increased top speed of 246kt (456km/h), a claimed 40% improvement in manoeuverability and a 20% reduction in fuel consumption.

 PZL-130 Orlik trainer
© Bartosz Glowacki
Poland will have 16 aircraft upgraded to the Orlik TC-II standard

A new maintenance system has also been devised for the improved type, with each airframe now expected to have a service life of 10,000-12,000 flight hours.

PZL representatives say the enhancements could save the Polish air force about 250 million zlotys ($84 million) in operating costs over the next 30 years for a fleet of 28 aircraft.

Poland's defence ministry signed a 148 million zlotys deal with Airbus Military last January to upgrade 16 PZL-130s to the Orlik TC-II standard. Deliveries to the 4th Flight Training Wing at the air force academy in Deblin should conclude in March 2014.

An agreement is expected soon to modify the air force's remaining 12 aircraft to a TC-III standard, which will add a synthetic training capability to the Orlik's cockpit avionics.

Airbus Military will send a TC-II-standard trainer to India in mid-October using two Polish air force C-295s for tests expected to last until 2 November. The type is being offered to meet an Indian air force trainer requirement, with Poland's ETC-PZL Aerospace Industries company supporting the bid.

Uruguay has been named as another possible customer for the type, while Airbus Military will also offer the TC-II as a contender for a Spanish air force tender for between 50 and 70 new turboprop trainers.

Additional reporting by Grzegorz Sobczak

Source: Flight International