The Roulettes team is scheduled to include the new Pilatus PC-21 as part of its displays at this year’s Avalon airshow.
The PC-21 is scheduled to replace all of the Roulette’s current Pilatus PC-9/As.
The Roulettes display is flown by qualified flying instructors (QFIs) from the RAAF’s Central Flying School, based at RAAF Base East Sale, Victoria. Roulette pilots fly with the team as a secondary duty, in addition to being instructors at CFS.
The PC-21 sits at the centre of the Air Force’s new Pilot Training System, being introduced under the AIR 5428 project. Forty-nine were ordered, complemented by seven flight training device (FTD) simulators for RAAF Base East Sale and 2FTS at RAAF Base Pearce, WA.
Under AIR 5428, the PC-21 is a replacement for both the ageing PC-9/A, which has been in service since 1988, and the CT-4B Airtrainer, which has been used for flight screening and basic training.
As an integrated system, AIR 5428 is designed to train all future RAAF, Royal Australian Navy and Australian Army pilots. The project spans flight screening and all phases of pilot training from basic flying training at East Sale through to the advanced flying training at 2FTS at Pearce.
Lockheed Martin is the prime contractor with responsibility for delivering AIR 5428 and is providing the ground-based training environment, with Pilatus providing the aircraft and Hawker Pacific providing maintenance support.
Along with a change of Pilatus aircraft comes a change in colour scheme.
The Roulettes aircraft feature the same basic red fuselage, white tail and blue underside scheme worn by the 2FTS PC-21s but gain blue triangles on the fuselage and wings and the trademark Roulettes ‘R’ and Southern Cross tail markings.
“There are two PC-21 schemes, one of them is somewhat of a retro colour scheme with World War 2 style markings, and that will be the 2FTS bird, and that was to help students identify the top and bottom of the aircraft and make it a very easy aircraft to see from a long distance,” Chief of Air Force Air Marshal Leo Davies told Australian Aviation at the launch of the new scheme in Canberra last year.
“For the Roulettes, however, we wanted something that was unique, so we spent a little bit of time going through colour schemes that were not totally dissimilar [to the current Roulettes scheme], was able to be understood as red, white and blue, and to have the Roulette tail, but something a little more, I’d say, edgy,” AIRMSHL Davies said.
“The Roulettes are part of the Air Force heritage. They’re part of what helps us display to Australians and international guests that we have an Air Force that has a high skill level,” CAF said.
“Trying to keep them modern, trying to keep them vibrant is really important, so they’ve changed their display over time, but now we’re transitioning to the PC-21 it’s a real opportunity.
“And talking to the drivers … they’ve all said the PC-21 brings with it some very different characteristics, a higher roll rate, more power, more speed. So the Roulettes team is really excited about how we design the new display for PC-21.”
On the issue of training, AIRMSHL Davies spoke of the a growing global pilot shortage and increasing competition for high-quality pilot training candidates. “We’re going to need to step up, and for me that means we need higher quality candidates, we need more candidates, we need a higher graduation standard, and we’re meeting that challenge with the PC-21, AIR 5428, Lockheed Martin and Pilatus, together with the Royal Australian Air Force.
“It’s a winner I reckon.”
To hear more about the Roulettes’ transition from the PC-9 to the PC-21, listen to the Australian Aviation podcast Episode 15 involving Roulette #4 FLTLT Scott Tavasci and Roulette #7 FLTLT Daniel Armstrong. australianaviation.com.au