By end of December 2016, three Pilatus Aircraft PC-21 fleet orders have been signed for a total of 21 PC-21s, worth over CHF300 million. 17 will go to the French Air Force (Armée de l'air - ADA), two are intended for the Royal Jordanian Air Force, and two for QinetiQ UK, operating the Empire Test Pilots' School (ETPS).
The 17 ADA PC-21s will be used to train future military pilots who will transfer to the Alpha Jet prior to their conversion on to the Dassault RAFALE fighter aircraft. On 30 December 2016, the ADA signed a contract with Babcock Mission Critical Services France (BMCSF), with Pilatus as a sub-contractor, in which role the PC-21 and other ground-based training material will contribute to completion of the overall contract. In addition to the Swiss Air Force, France is now the second European nation to opt for the PC-21.
"I am delighted we have finally won another European Air Force for our PC-21," Oscar J. Schwenk, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Pilatus, said. "An exceptionally rigorous selection process based on the strictest of criteria provides further proof that the PC-21 is the first choice worldwide for training military pilots. I am proud that our best-selling PC-21 is now destined to fly for 'la Grande Nation.' France is already the 8th air force to choose the PC-21: These orders included, we will soon have a total of 209 PC-21s flying successfully from bases around the world. I'm confident that other European Air Forces will follow France's example!"
The Royal Jordanian Air Force, having placed an initial order for the PC-9 M in August 2015, re-evaluated their requirement in early 2016 due to previously unforeseen issues with their Lead in Fighter Trainer (LIFT) platform. The procurement decision was revised following a modification of the training concept, introducing the PC-21 all-through training model. The contract amendment was initially for eight aircraft but with an option for additional units, if required. The option was now executed for two more PC-21s’, with a total of ten PC-21s’ now providing the backbone of the nation's future pilot training regime. The first deliveries will be undertaken mid-2017.
Under the contract concluded with QinetiQ UK, Pilatus will provide two PC-21s to the ETPS based in Wiltshire, UK. Operated by QinetiQ UK, ETPS functions as a training centre for flight test engineers and test pilots, and enjoys an excellent reputation worldwide. The PC-21s with their modified flight instruments will be used to train test pilots and flight test engineers for national and international customers.
"Pilatus is pleased to be part of the programme of modernisation at QinetiQ Test Aircrew Training," Markus Bucher, CEO of Pilatus, explained. "Our PC-21 will provide a training platform for the next generation of test pilots worldwide. That a global leader in the test flight sector decides to replace ageing HAWKs and Alpha Jets with the PC-21 is a tribute to our product's performance and flexibility."