French Air Force Pilatus PC-21 Single-Engine Turboprop Trainer
French Air Force Pilatus PC-21 Single-Engine Turboprop Trainer

French Air Force Buys Nine More Pilatus PC-21 Turboprop-powered Advanced Trainers

In 2017 the Armée de l’Air et de l’Espace purchased 17 PC-21s and has successfully trained its future military pilots on the world’s most modern training system since then. The Air Force has now ordered a further nine PC-21s to reinforce its training programme with additional Pilatus training aircraft. The Armée de l’Air et de l’Espace, one of the world’s most prestigious air forces , has ordered a further nine PC-21s, proving with this additional contract how efficient the Pilatus training system is. The PC-21s will be deployed to train future military pilots who will subsequently step up to the nation’s multi-role lead-fighter. The PC-21s will replace the twin-engine jet trainers which were previously used for pilot training.

The Pilatus PC-21 is a turboprop-powered advanced trainer with a stepped tandem cockpit. It is manufactured by Pilatus Aircraft of Switzerland. The Pilatus PC-21 is an advanced single-engine trainer aircraft; it is often referred to by Pilatus as being the “Twenty-first Century Trainer”. The type can be applied for various training capacities, including basic flying training, advanced flight training, full mission management training, and embedded simulation/emulation. In order to perform these functions, the aircraft possesses a powerful, flexible, and cost-effective integrated training system; providing sufficient ease of use for inexperienced pilots while posing greater challenge to advanced pilots. According to Pilatus, upon product launch, the PC-21 possessed “superior aerodynamic performance when compared with any other turboprop trainer on the market”.

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French Air Force Pilatus PC-21 Single-Engine Turboprop Trainer
French Air Force Pilatus PC-21 Single-Engine Turboprop Trainer

The French procurement authority, the Direction générale de l’armement (DGA) , signed the agreement with F-AIR 21 (Cognac Formation Aero SAS France), with Pilatus acting as the exclusive subcontractor for the supply of the nine PC-21s and other groundbased training systems and spare parts. The order will secure jobs in Switzerland, where the PC-21s are produced. The PC-21s will be stationed at the Cognac-Châteaubernard air base from 2023, where PC-21s have been in use since 2018. The first pilots concluded their training in 2020. With the latest order, the PC-21 fleet will increase to a total of 26. Besides Switzerland and Spain, France is the third European nation to adopt the PC-21, the world’s most advanced training system. Over 230 PC-21s are now in service with nine air forces worldwide. The PC-21 is also used to train future test pilots at the Empire Test Pilots’ School in Boscombe Down, England.

Given the ever-tighter cost pressure on air force budgets, the completely newly developed PC-21 offers a highly efficient, smart platform for training jet pilots. The PC-21 has extremely high equipment and performance features to meet this need. They provide the single-engine turboprop with a mission spectrum that was previously reserved exclusively for jets. The PC-21 is far more cost-effective to operate that a conventional jet trainer. Feedback from existing PC-21 customers confirms that the Pilatus training system delivers a reduction of over 50 percent in the cost of training a prospective military pilot. Flight simulators and other ground-based learning materials also contribute to this integrated concept.

French Air Force Pilatus PC-21 Single-Engine Turboprop Trainer
French Air Force Pilatus PC-21 Single-Engine Turboprop Trainer
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