RAAF welcomes first two PC-21s

The first two PC-21s for the RAAF on display at the Avalon Airshow. (Paul Sadler)

Chief of Air Force Air Marshal Leo Davies has welcomed the arrival of the Royal Australian Air Force’s first two Pilatus PC-21 training aircraft that form part of the AIR 5428 Pilot Training System project.

“We will be formally introducing the PC-21 into service in coming months, but it is grand to be here at Avalon to welcome these first two aircraft,” CAF said, speaking at the Avalon Airshow on Friday. “It really is the start point of us generating what will become a fifth-generation Air Force.”

Minister for Defence Personnel Dan Tehan and Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Darren Chester were also on hand to welcome the new aircraft.

The PC-21 is due to start flying operations at RAAF Base East Sale in the middle of this year, while the first pilot course is scheduled to start in early 2019.

The epic delivery flight to East Sale of A54-001 and A54-002 started at Buochs in Switzerland and took 39 hours and 5 minutes, spanning 16 legs over 10 days of flying, with one rest day.

Stops were made at Bari, Heraklion, Luxor, Riyadh, Fujairah, Ahmedabad, Varanasi, Chittagong, Bangkok, Singapore, Bali, Kupang, Darwin, Mount Isa and Brisbane.

The aircraft were flown with two extra fuel tanks under the wings that almost doubled the amount of fuel that could be carried.

Martin Mendel, instructor and production test pilot at Pilatus, who flew A54-002 to Australia, said he had never before been involved in such a delivery flight.

“This was the longest I have done; next closest was a PC-7 MkII to Malaysia,” Mendel told Australian Australian. “This is much more pleasant because we have the autopilot…and the seat is more comfortable.”


  1. JP says

    Those lucky young guys and girls that will learn to fly in such an advanced trainer so early in their flying careers enjoy every moment! Now are there any used PC9’s for sale??

  2. B. Harrison says

    What a wonderful time for young Australians to think of a career in our Air Force. It is fast becoming the envy of middle power air forces around the world. With so many new aircraft types, Australia surely must have the most modern Air Force in the world.

  3. AlanH says

    I can’t believe that a state-of-the-art training aircraft like the PC-21, that is supposed to introduce pilots to a jet flying experience, still has a side-hinged canopy! Where are the twin rear hinged domes like real front line fighters? And their range! Even with additional fuel tanks on the under wing hard-points it still took 10 days and 16 legs to get them here from Switzerland! Unbelievable! They better not fly too far from Sale or they may not get back again. Let’s hope their systems are up to scratch as to justify the view that they are “the start point of [Australia] generating what will become a fifth-generation Air Force.”