RAAF’s First Six PC-21s Officially Inducted into Service

RAAF PC-21s A54-003 and A54-004 fly over the Gippsland area of Australia during a sortie on August 9, 2017.  A ceremony was held at RAAF Base East Sale yesterday to formally induct the first six of these aircraft into RAAF service.  Commonwealth of Australia/Flt Lt Ash Kissock

A CEREMONY was held at Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Base East Sale, Victoria, yesterday, August 11, to mark the arrival of the first six RAAF Pilatus PC-21 training aircraft.  Minister for Defence, Senator the Hon Marise Payne, and Member for Gippsland, the Hon Darren Chester MP, officially welcomed the aircraft at the event.

The first two aircraft, A54-001 and A54-002, had departed from the factory at Stans-Buochs, Switzerland, on February 10 to begin their delivery flight.  After a number of stop-overs, they touched down in Australia for the first time on February 19 at RAAF Base Darwin, Northern Territory, where they made a night stop before the final legs of the long journey to join No 2 Flying Training School at RAAF Pearce, Western Australia.  They will also be operated by the Central Flying School at East Sale.

The second pair of RAAF PC-21s, A54-003 and A54-004, left Stans on April 28 to begin their delivery flight.  A further two, A54-005 and A54-006, left Stans on June 2 to bring total deliveries to date to six.  A further nine RAAF aircraft, up to A54-015, are currently at various stages of production in Switzerland.

The PC-21s will begin training undergraduate student pilots in piloting and flying instructor courses from early 2019, replacing the older Pilatus PC-9/As currently used, which have been in service since 1987.  They are planned to remain in service for the next 30 years.

During yesterday’s ceremony at East Sale, Minister Payne said: “Over $300 million is being invested in new state of the art training facilities, which incorporates seven new PC-21 flight simulators, both here at RAAF Base East Sale and at RAAF Base Pearce in Perth.  The Government’s investment in the new pilot training system and relocation of Basic Flying Training School to RAAF Base East Sale is part of our commitment to continue producing highly skilled and talented personnel across Air Force, Navy and Army.  The ADF will now have an intake of up to 165 trainee pilots each year at RAAF Base East Sale, leading to an increase in the number of successful graduates.”