The RAAF’s Pilatus PC-9/A turboprop trainer fleet is undergoing inspections after cracking was discovered in the folding strut of the aircraft’s nose landing gear, the Department of Defence said in a statement on Thursday.
“Consequently, Air Force is assessing the implications of these cracks, so as to ensure the aircraft meet Air Force’s strict safety standards,” the statement read.
“Therefore, as a precautionary measure, each PC-9/A will undergo an additional engineering review, and remediation repairs, before returning to normal flying activities.”
The PC-9 fleet has not been grounded but each individual aircraft won’t be cleared to fly until it has been inspected and repaired as necessary.
The discovery of the cracking has meant that displays by the Roulettes formation aerobatic display team have been cancelled until the end of May.
“As the aircraft are reviewed and return to flying, Roulette displays will resume,” the Defence statement notes.
The PC-9 is the RAAF’s primary pilot training aircraft, operated by 2FTS from RAAF Base Pearce in WA. It is also operated by the Central Flying School (CFS), of which the Roulettes are a part, from RAAF Base East in Victoria and by 4SQN from RAAF Williamtown, NSW for Forward Air Control (FAC) and Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC) training.
The PC-9 first entered RAAF service in 1987 and is due to be replaced by the Pilatus PC-21 under the AIR 5428 Pilot Training System program later this decade. In April the RAAF marked 500,000 PC-9 flying hours.