Spain opts to acquire additional PC-21s

Having already ordered an initial batch of 24 turboprop-driven Pilatus PC-21s in early 2020, the Spanish Air and Space Force (SASF) has further bolstered its commitment to the platform by acquiring a further 16 examples from the Swiss aircraft manufacturer, making it the largest operator of the PC-21 in Europe.

Madrid’s order for an additional 16 PC-21s and associated simulators was announced by Pilatus Aircraft on March 10, with the company adding that the extra airframes will help to reinforce the fleet as the SASF looks to employ the type in the elementary flying training role, as well as its current basic training mission. Spain received its last of 24 initial PC-21s last summer, with these aircraft equipping 792 Escuadrón – a part of the Academia General del Aire (AGA; General Air Academy) at Murcia-San Javier Air Base in southeastern Spain.

A pair of SASF-operated PC-21 turboprop trainers in flight. Pilatus will deliver a further 16 examples to Spain, growing the nation's fleet from 24 aircraft to 40.
A pair of SASF-operated PC-21 turboprop trainers in flight. Pilatus will deliver a further 16 examples to Spain, growing the nation's fleet from 24 aircraft to 40. Pilatus Aircraft

This latest acquisition will increase the SASF’s PC-21 fleet to 40 aircraft. Of the 16 new PC-21s acquired, 14 will also be delivered to the AGA, while the remaining two airframes will be used by the Centro Logístico de Armamento y Experimentación (CLAEX; Armament and Experimentation Logistics Centre) at Torrejón Air Base, near Madrid, for experimental, research and development and flight test training purposes. In addition to the 16 new aircraft, the deal includes the provision of a new PC-21 simulator and two cockpit procedure trainers, as well as additional mission planning and debriefing systems and pilot training software. Pilatus did not disclose the value of this latest contract or a delivery schedule for Spain’s new PC-21s.

Commenting on this latest acquisition and the PC-21’s performance in SASF service so far, Lt Col Ildefonso Martínez-Pardo González – Air Operations Group Commander at the AGA – said: “Now in use with the Spanish Air and Space Force for over 18 months, the PC-21 integrated training system far exceeds our expectations. Its reliable and efficient powerplant, aerodynamics, safety systems and avionics make the PC-21 a highly versatile trainer, capable of performing any phase of flight training from the most elementary to the most advanced.

“Our relationship with Pilatus has been outstanding throughout, and a key factor for successful implementation. The excellent collaboration, professionalism and teamwork of everyone involved over the past three years have enabled us to roll out this PC-21 training course in record time without interruption to training,” he added.