Pilatus has proven itself as a world leading manufacturer of training aircraft. Rod Simpson details one of Switzerland’s most promising exports: the Pilatus PC-21
Planning the optimum shape of a modern air force is a daunting task. Do you replace ageing fighters, trainers and transport aircraft like-for-like or do you adopt a new philosophy, even if it involves compromises? Rapid advances in technology often means replacing older jet trainers with new aircraft that are costly to acquire and operate.
Historically, military training has required at least two different types: a piston or turboprop-powered primary trainer and a jet aircraft for lead-in fighter training. In the mid-1990s, Pilatus began looking at combining the two roles using a high-performance turboprop. If this could be achieved, it would not only reduce acquisition costs but also bring the operating economies of a turboprop.