In a hopeful sign, Pilatus said it will return to full work schedules by February 1. The company reduced working hours at its main plant in Switzerland in September, mainly for aircraft production staff, because of a lower order intake for the PC-12NG turboprop single. Overall, working hours were reduced by 13 percent, although there were no layoffs.
Following the selection in February of the Alenia Aermacchi M-346 Master for its advanced trainer and light combat aircraft needs, the United Arab Emirates air force and air defense (AFAD) is focused on its basic trainer requirement to replace the current Pilatus PC-7 Turbo Trainers. The competitors are the jet-powered Alenia Aermacchi M-311 and the turboprop Pilatus PC-21.
In late September the Royal Moroccan Air Force (RMAF) became the latest customer for the Hawker Beechcraft T-6 Texan II trainer and the first for the weapons-capable T-6C. The $37 million Foreign Military Sales contract covers the first installment of a planned 24-aircraft purchase that was first notified to the U.S. Congress through the Defense Security Cooperation Agency in late 2007.
In late July the U.S. Air Force’s Air Combat Command issued a request for information for what it calls the light attack/armed reconnaissance (LAAR) aircraft. The RFI covers the potential procurement of 100 OA-X aircraft optimized for irregular warfare missions, which could see the U.S. Air Force back in the business
Alenia Aermacchi is reorganizing the layout of its Venegono plant in Italy in preparation for the start of serial production of its M-346 lead-in fighter trainer. Its contract with the Italian government for six aircraft and simulation equipment (nine more aircraft are to follow) is technically ready and awaits signatures by all the ministries involved.
Aerosim Technologies might not be a name familiar to most business aircraft pilots who train in full-motion simulators, but pilots who need to learn how to use an FMS have probably used an Aerosim FMS trainer. Now Aerosim (Booth No. 2085) is developing Virtual Procedures Trainers for business aircraft, which enable training in cockpit procedures at a much lower cost than a full simulator or flight-training device.
The United Arab Emirates has selected the Alenia Aermacchi M-346 Master to fulfill its advanced trainer and combat support requirement. The UAE Air Force and Air Defense (AFAD) plans to acquire 48 Masters for lead-in fighter training and light attack duties.
NetJets Europe has introduced into its workforce the first nine new pilots to complete its ab initio training program. The pilots joined the company’s flight crew roster in November and December, having graduated from the course run for the fractional ownership provider by Oxford Aviation Training in the UK. A further 38 ab initio pilots are due to graduate this year, followed by 21 more next year.
Finmeccanica’s Alenia Aermacchi division is launching a competition to find a nickname for its M346. The division’s CEO, Carmelo Cosentino, said the first low-rate initial production (LRIP) example flew on July 7, and that the aircraft is 700 kg lighter than the prototypes, giving it “much better maneuverability.” Aermacchi hopes to attract 35 to 40 percent of a market for around 2,000 advanced jet trainers over the next 25 years.
Student pilots from the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) have begun basic flight training on the Pilatus PC-21 advanced turboprop. Twelve aircraft have now been airfreighted to the RSAF’s Flying Training School at Pearce airbase in Australia and re-assembled. The remaining seven are due for delivery next month. They are replacing Alenia Aermacchi S-211 jet trainers that are now nearly 25 years old.