The Swiss air force is believed to have signed a memorandum of understanding with Pilatus to procure six PC-21 turboprop trainers, for delivery from 2007.
The proposed deal – awaiting Swiss government approval – covers the Swiss company’s next six pre-production aircraft, to be built in 2006. “There’s a high chance the Swiss air force will be the launch customer,” says John Senior, Pilatus’s vice-president for research and development. Pilatus’s first pre-series production PC-21 made its flight debut in late August and will be used to support certification of the design’s instrument flight rules and autopilot systems. The aircraft, along with a second pre-series PC-21 platform to be completed this year, will be retained by the manufacturer for testing.
The Swiss company hopes to gain as much as 50% of a potential 1,000-strong trainer aircraft market over the next 20-25 years and is currently competing in contests in Singapore, the UK and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). A decision is expected from Singapore by March 2006, but possibly as soon as late this year, says Senior.
The PC-21 is due to take part in flight trials for the requirement next month.
The UAE, which already operates 35 Pilatus PC-7 trainers, has already conducted one evaluation of the PC-21, and the company says a second in-country flight test is due “towards the end of the year”.
Pilatus is also targeting the UK’s Military Flying Training System competition. If successful, the company would expect to supply the UK with about 60 aircraft, says Senior.
Source: Flight International