Aquila Engineering to provide engineering support for RAAF PC-21s

A PC-21 on approach to Adelaide on July 9 on its delivery flight en route to East Sale. (Ryan Hothersall)The Royal Australian Air Force’s new Pilatus PC-21 trainers will receive in-country engineering and logistics support from Aquila Engineering under a new contract that came into affect on July 1.

The contract, announced on Wednesday, means Aquila Engineering will maintain its link with the Australian Defence Force training fleet, given it currently provides support for the PC-9/A that is being withdrawn.

Aquila Engineering general manager Jenny Marshall said the PC-21 work would build on the company’s experience working on the PC-9/A.

“Pilatus and Aquila first partnered in 2004 to provide in-country engineering and logistics support to the current RAAF pilot training platform,” Marshall said in a statement.

“The initiative to set-up the in-country technical capability has been very successful in supporting the customer’s needs; particularly with Aquila being based in Sale, Victoria and Perth, Western Australia being the two primary RAAF pilot training bases.

“This same system will now support the PC-21 platform, which has the same customer, roles and operating bases and will therefore benefit from a proven and responsive engineering capability to support the new performance based contract through an SME entity with its head-office located in rural Victoria.”

The first of 49 PC-21s for the ADF’s AIR 5428 Pilot Training System program arrived in Australia in February. A formal ceremony to welcome the aircraft into RAAF service is expected some time early next month.

The prime contractor for the AIR 5428 project is Lockheed Martin, which has teamed with Pilatus and Hawker Pacific to deliver the new ADF pilot training system under a seven-year, $1.2-billion contract that was signed in late 2015.

Under AIR 5428 the PC-21 will replace both the ageing PC-9/A, which has been in service since 1988, and the CT-4 currently used for basic training. The PC-9/A is due to be withdrawn in 2019 after 30 years of service and more than 500,000 flying hours.

“We are looking forward to this renewed long-term partnership and are pleased to continue our relationship with Aquila Engineering; an in-country arrangement for the engineering support further increases our commitment to Australian industry capability supporting the PC-21,” Pilatus director defence Australia Rob Oliver said.