Black-empowered aviation company Aerosud will next month start upgrading the cockpits of 35 Pilatus Astra PC-7 MkII tandem training aircraft under the supervision of the Swiss original equipment manufacturer (OEM) as part of a programme coated at R400 million in 2007.
Pilatus in a statement says the main objective of the upgrade is to remove the obsolete avionic equipment from the fleet and replace it with new modern “glass cockpit” components that will be procurable and supportable until the aircraft’s out-of-service date.
The OEM says the first flight of the modified aircraft took place at Pilatus Aircraft in Switzerland on September 23 “and was a significant achievement on the programme schedule.”
The trial installation was used to validate the modifications, kit lists, tooling, and procedures required to perform the modifications of the remainder of the aircraft in South Africa.
Pilatus says the upgrade will be done by Aerosud, under contract to Pilatus, at Langebaanweg Air Force Base north of Cape Town.
“Aerosud will be supported by Pilatus Field Service Engineers during the initial embodiment period.
“The first in-country aircraft modification is scheduled to commence in mid November 2009 after which the remainder of the aircraft will be modified in a staggered approach.
“The duration of the fleet embodiment in South Africa is expected to be three and a half years,”the statement adds.
The contract also includes two new flight training devices, training, ground-based training systems and spares.
The first of 60 aircraft acquired for the SAAF at a cost of $175 million to replace the North American Harvard as its basic trainer was delivered on October 17, 1994.
The contract was signed by then-Defence Minister Gene Louw on February 12, 1993 and provided for 55% offsets. It was SA’s first post-apartheid defence purchase.