The first PC-21 for QinetiQ (c/n 310, G-ETPA) completed its maiden flight on January 15. A delegation from QinetiQ was at the Pilatus factory airfield at Stans-Buochs to witness the first flight. The turboprop trainer is temporarily registered as HB-HYX for pre-delivery flight tests.
In January last year Pilatus Aircraft announced signature of a contract to provide two PC-21s to QinetiQ. The aircraft will be operated by the Empire Test Pilots’ School (ETPS) based at MoD Boscombe Down, Wiltshire. According to the manufacturer, the PC-21s will feature modified flight instruments to train test pilots and flight test engineers.
QinetiQ will continue to manage ETPS until at least 2028, under a £1bn deal with the UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) announced on December 2, 2016. The contractor is investing £85m in the school to modernise the UK’s test aircrew training.
The two aircraft for QinetiQ were part of a total of 21 orders announced at the same time: the figure also includes 17 for France, plus two additional aircraft for Jordan, valued at over 300m Swiss francs.