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We are told that the Pilatus PC-21 is an entirely new aircraft, although it is based on its predecessor. The concept for the new aircraft was tested by making modifications on its predecessor in late 1997. Work on the new design began in 1999 with the new PC-21 taking flight in July of 2002.
The PC-21 is the most aerodynamic training aircraft produced by Pilatus to date. It features an air conditioned, pressurized glass cockpit with the latest avionics, and a digitally managed 1,600 s.h.p. turboprop engine, the most powerful engine Pilatus has ever installed in a training aircraft. The Pilatus PC-21 has been designed for ease of maintenance, economical operation, and low noise levels. Its propeller has five blades.
The manufacturer says that new pilots can go directly from the Pilatus PC-21 to a jet aircraft without having to use a jet trainer. The aircraft has forgiving handling for a student pilot, yet can deliver jet-like maneuverability, climb and speed. It is capable of rolling at over 200 degrees a second.
Although only about 26 Pilatus PC-21 aircraft have been produced to date, orders have been placed for the aircraft by Singapore, Switzerland, and the United Arab Emirates. Saudi Arabia placed an order for 55 of the aircraft in May of 2012 with deliveries to start in 2014.