Spain Growing PC-21 Turboprop Trainer Fleet


Credit: Pilatus

Spain looks set to become Europe’s largest operator of the Pilatus PC-21 turboprop trainer after placing a top-up order for another 16 aircraft. 

Spain is already operating 24 of the aircraft from an order placed in early 2020 as part of a recapitalization of the Spanish Air Force’s training fleet and enabling a partial retirement of the domestically developed CASA C-101 Aviojet trainer. 

The order of an additional 16 aircraft—announced March 10 and worth €445 million ($473.9 million)—will boost Spain’s fleet to 40. The added aircraft will support elementary flying training and basic training already done by the existing fleet. 

Of the 16 aircraft, 14 will be added to the Spanish Air Force’s flight training school, the Academia General del Aire. The remaining two will be used by the air force’s experimental flight training unit, CLAEX, and also for research and development activities. 

Gen. Javier Salto Martínez-Avial, the Spanish Air Force’s chief of staff, said the PC-21–designated E.27 in Spain–was providing “advantages in terms of flight safety, teaching quality and resource efficiency.” 

As well as the 16 aircraft, Pilatus will also supply a PC-21 simulator, two cockpit procedure trainers and additional mission planning and debriefing systems, as well as pilot training software. 

Other European air arms using the PC-21 include France and Switzerland. The type has also been adopted by Australia, Jordan, Qatar Saudi Arabia, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates.

Tony Osborne

Based in London, Tony covers European defense programs. Prior to joining Aviation Week in November 2012, Tony was at Shephard Media Group where he was deputy editor for Rotorhub and Defence Helicopter magazines.