Pilatus has completed the production of all PC-21 turboprop trainers ordered by France. The 17th and final example (c/n 309, HB-HVQ) began test flights at the company’s Stans-Buochs facility last week.
France selected the PC-21 in December 2016 when a deal was signed with the French subsidiary of Babcock, the company forming a joint venture with Dassault Aviation. The so-called FOMEDEC contract lasts 11 years and will provide fast jet pilot and navigator training for the French military. Simulation specialist CAE will provide ground training devices under a subcontract.
The Armee de l’Air’s new PC-21s and simulators will be based at Cognac-Châteaubernard, where they will replace the Grob G 120A and Socata TB-30 Epsilon. The PC-21s will also replace a part of the current fast jet training syllabus that is flown on Alpha Jets.
Surprisingly, no aircraft has been delivered to France to date. Some of the French PC-21s are temporarily parked in the old military caverns of the former Swiss Air Force base at Stans-Buochs. According to the French press, the PC-21s will arrive at Cognac in September. The first training course for French pilots is scheduled to begin in May next year.