The students of the General Academy of the Spanish Air Force have started this September a new course with an important novelty, the new PC-21 Pilatus training aircraft, which will allow them to obtain a much more complete, digital instruction and to do it in a more efficient way with a lower energy consumption and CO2 emissions.
The Academy of San Javier, in Murcia, already has for this course with the 24 aircraft purchased from the Swiss company Pilatus by the Ministry of Defense for a total amount of 205 million euros, which also include a team of simulators and logistical support systems.
With this integrated training system, the PC-21s will replace the veteran C-101s in the training of future Air Force military pilots, in view of the need for a more modern system adapted to the new technologies and the increasing demands of the new combat aircraft.
The Air Force explains that the most modern weapon systems require that military pilots arrive at the units with a more complete training adapted to the new technologies. And precisely the ‘Pilatus’ will bridge this technological ‘gap’ that until now existed between the Academy and the combat units.
The C-101s will be decommissioned progressively over the next few years until only 28 units are left, which will be destined exclusively for the Eagle Patrol, the Air Force’s aerobatic unit known for ‘painting’ the sky with the colors of the Spanish flag, which will continue to use these aircraft over the next decade.
In addition to numerous advantages for students and instructors, the ‘Pilatus’ will reduce training costs by up to 50 percent per pilot, according to the experience gained by other countries that already use this aircraft, such as France or Switzerland.
The savings will be possible thanks to its lower fuel consumption, which will also mean lower CO2 emissions. In addition, less real flight hours will be needed for training due to the advanced ground simulation systems and it also has lower maintenance costs, since it has a complex system for warning and preventing failures or needs.
This aircraft will be used by the fourth year students of the General Air Academy: the first two courses are only theoretical, the third course will continue using the ‘Pillán’ aircraft and the fifth course already divides the students between the specialties of fighter and combat, cargo and transport, helicopters or unmanned systems (drones).
The forecast is that the first student will start the first flight in this integrated training system in the third week of September to finish the course in June or July 2023. This year there are a total of 54 students, three of them women.