The Australian Defence Force (ADF) first Pilatus PC-21 aircraft, which is registered as A54, has successfully completed the initial production test flight.

The test flight was conducted by prime contractor Lockheed Martin in partnership with Pilatus Aircraft Ltd.

Pilatus chairman Oscar Schwenk said: “This initial flight of the first Australian PC-21, only seven months after contract signature, is a remarkable achievement and illustrates both the commitment of Pilatus and the hard work of all those involved in the project.”

Under the A$1.2bn ($898m) AIR 5428 pilot training system programme, Lockheed Martin will provide overall project management for the pilot training system in addition to delivering ground-based training technologies.

Pilatus Aircraft will provide PC-21 turboprop training aircraft and engineering and airworthiness support, while Hawker Pacific will provide maintenance services and fleet support.

The contract for the seven-year programme was signed in December last year and also has an option to extend its value further.

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"This initial flight of the first Australian PC-21, only seven months after contract signature, is a remarkable achievement."
Lockheed Martin said that the company will lead the delivery of an integrated solution tailored for all future pilots for the Royal Australian Air Force, Royal Australian Navy and the Australian Army.

Lockheed Martin Australia and New Zealand chief executive Raydon Gates said: “This is a true testament to our teammate Pilatus and a proven aircraft that will form the backbone of future pilot training for the Australian Defence Force for the next 25 years.”

Prior to delivery to the Royal Australian Air Force at East Sale in June next year, testing and verification work for the first PC-21 will be completed in Switzerland as well as Australia.

Image: The Pilatus PC-21 aircraft taking its first initial production test flight in Stans, Switzerland. Photo: courtesy of Lockheed Martin Corporation.