UK company QinetiQ has placed an order with Pilatus for two PC-21 aircraft, marking the first step in its modernization of the Empire Test Pilots’ School (ETPS) aircraft fleet at Boscombe Down.
The contract, won by Pilatus Aircraft Ltd in competition, is the first awarded by QinetiQ in delivering its programme to modernize training for test pilots and aircrew. The program is part of a £1bn deal with the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD), announced last December 2, under which QinetiQ and the MoD have agreed to invest £85m in the school to reduce operating costs and enhance its capabilities to drive future growth.
The PC-21s will replace the ageing ETPS Hawk T1s and Alpha Jets.
Steve Wadey, QinetiQ CEO, said: ‘Under the recent £1bn contract amendment with the MoD, we made a commitment to reducing cost and modernising training for test pilots and aircrew. The purchase of these aircraft shows we are getting straight to work in delivering on our promises. The PC-21 and subsequent introductions to the ETPS fleet will further cement the school’s position as a world leader in military test aircrew training, and guarantee that it continues to meet customers’ needs long into the future. A revised syllabus will also support the training of test pilots for civil aircraft, creating opportunities for growth into new markets.’