RAAF’s first PC-21 pilots begin conversion training

The first Australian pilots to undertake conversion training on the PC-21 as part of the AIR5428 new Pilot Training System Project, pictured at the Pilatus airfield at Stans in Switzerland. FLTLT Andrew Lynch (ATTO), SQNLDR Scott Van Ginkel (ATPO), WGCDR Colin O'Neil (ATTO), SQNLDR Steve Bekker (ARDU), and  SQNLDR Jay Tuffley (ATTO)
FLTLT Andrew Lynch, SQNLDR Scott Van Ginkel, WGCDR Colin O’Neil, SQNLDR Steve Bekker and SQNLDR Jay Tuffley in Switzerland for PC-21 conversion training. (Defence)

The first Australian pilots to undertake conversion training on the Pilatus PC-21 pilot training aircraft recently arrived in Switzerland, the RAAF has announced.

These pilots will form the transition team responsible for the development of the new training curriculum and simulators that are being acquired under the AIR 5428 Pilot Training System project, the contract for which has been awarded to the Lockheed Martin-led Team 21.

The PC-21 is set to replace the PC-9/A and CT-4B, and primarily will be based at RAAF Base East Sale and RAAF Base Pearce.

“The capabilities of the PC-21 make it ideally suited to a very wide training envelope,” the RAAF stated on January 18. “It can be used from day one in the training system, eliminating the need for an elementary flying training fleet, but also bridges the performance gap between traditional turboprop trainers and lead-in fighters.”

Air Force stated that of the 49 PC-21s Australia is acquiring, 42 are destined for the Pilot Training System along with seven flight training devices, with three to be allocated to the Aircraft Research and Development Unit (ARDU), and a further four for Forward Air Control with 4 Squadron.

The first AIR 5428 aircraft and simulators are expected to be delivered in mid-2017, with the first pilot training course to begin in 2019.


  1. Jason says

    Strange that the ADF announces this nearly two months after the crews arrived in Switzerland to begin training…blame the Christmas break?

  2. Mark says

    Wow big step up doing ab initio training in a PC-21! I can only imagine how it would feel stepping into one of those instead of my old PA-38!

  3. Jason says

    Roulettes will be going to the PC-21. The team doesn’t ‘own’ dedicated airframes, rather it draws from the CFS fleet.

  4. Raymond says

    No mucking around now… it seems that the decision has hardly been announced and conversion training is already underway!

  5. Raymond says

    Thanks Jason.

    I realise that 7 simulators are included in the package, however it’s still somewhat surprising that 49 PC-21’s can replace around 60 – 65 PC-9’s and 25 – 30 CT-4’s.

    I wonder if attrition has been factored in or whether a top-up order will be made if necessary…

  6. BH says

    I dare say those 7 simulators will be worked the hardest.
    Given the capability of simulators these days it’s easy to see how fewer airframes can cover a larger output of pilots through the program. However, I wonder if this coupled with the new aircraft’s ability to cover a broader range of training experience levels, will allow for the quality over quantity concept to play a bigger part in the new training system…

  7. Jason says

    The number of aircraft and simulators was not specified by the Commonwealth, rather they was proposed by Team21 in order to be able to fulfill the training rate of effort and pilot throughput specified by the Commonwealth. These are not 1 for 1 replacement aircraft, but rather part of a whole new system.

  8. Raymond says

    Thanks Jason. Yes, understand that, however 49 airframes (with 7 simulators / training devices) are still replacing 85 to 95 aircraft, aren’t they? Quite a large reduction.