Ireland's intention to a acquire eight Pilatus PC-9s (Flight International, 21-27 January) from Switzerland in 2004 appears to be in line with a consultants' report by PriceWaterhouse in 1998 which recommended eight such aircraft to replace Aermacchi SF260Ws and now-retired Fouga Magisters.

While the PC-9 is no doubt an excellent aircraft, its use other than in the training role must surely be limited.

The world has changed since that PriceWaterhouse report, because of the 11 September US terrorist attacks. At a reported price of $63.2 million for the PC-9s, I feel that an alternative aircraft, still fairly basic, but more capable of matching the speed of a jet-engined airliner, might have been a better choice.

The Swiss air force is planning to retire its BAE Hawk trainers (all of which have low flying hours) in 2004. Would Ireland not be better served if it reduced the number of PC-9s and added some Hawks to its Swiss order?

Robert Allison

Glenrothes, Fife, UK

Source: Flight International