More flights will be used to acquire data as fatigue-test aircraft goes into production

Pilatus completed the first flight of the PC-21 basic trainer on 1 July with a 1h 13min flight from its Stans, Switzerland, base. Flown by project test pilot Bill Tyndall, the PC-21 reached 10,000ft (3,050m) and 176kt (325km/h).

Further test flights were made last week, as the company embarks on a flight-test programme intended to lead to Swiss civil certification in 2004.

Kevin Smith, Pilatus managing director strategic projects, says the undercarriage remained down as the low-speed flight envelope was explored. The flight was scheduled to last 45min, but the test pilot decided to extend it, he adds.

Smith says the 450-500h flight-test programme will be used to acquire reliability and maintainability data, as well as for envelope expansion and certification. The data will be used to support bids for privately financed training programmes, which a number of air forces are now considering. Pilatus "needs to prove predictability for these bids", says Smith.

He adds that plans to build a second prototype have been put on hold as Pilatus had few problems assembling the first aircraft, eliminating the need to gain production experience by building another machine. The second PC-21, "an unofficial pre-production aircraft", is likely to be rolled out late next year or in early 2004.

A fatigue-test aircraft is now in production.

Source: Flight International