Pilatus on Friday formally handed over the Botswana Defence Force Air Wing’s five new PC-7 Mk II Turbo trainer aircraft during a ceremony in Botswana’s capital Gaborone.
The ceremony was presided over by President of Botswana and Commander-in-Chief, Lieutenant General Seretse Khama Ian Khama, and hosted by the Botswana Defence Force Commander Lieutenant General Gaolothe Galebotswe.
All five aircraft ordered in 2011 to replace the existing PC-7s have now been delivered and have entered service.
Botswana’s PC-7 Mk IIs were delivered four months earlier than originally planned at the request of the Botswana Defence Force. All five aircraft were delivered last year, with the first one leaving the factory at Stans-Buochs, Switzerland, on October 3.
The five Mk IIs were ordered on April 13, 2011, for $43 million, including includes spares, support equipment and a comprehensive ground based training system that includes computer based training aids and training for pilots and technicians. The new aircraft are based at Thebephatshwa Air Base and are flown by Z7 Squadron.
In his handover address on Friday, Pilatus Chairman Oscar J Schwenk noted that the relationship between the Botswana Defence Force and Pilatus dates back to 1989 when the supply contract for seven PC-7 trainer aircraft was signed.
The first PC-7 was delivered in 1990 and after two decades of operation with more than 28 000 hours flown and more than 70 000 landings recorded, the ageing PC-7 aircraft reached the end of their operating lives, Pilatus said. In addition, attrition had taken its toll and only three were still flying last year – two were lost in a mid-air collision in October 2011.
The older PC-7s have been phased out and from this year all cadets can be trained on the new aircraft. Pilatus said that, as in the past, the new aircraft will be operated and maintained by Botswana Defence Force personnel, supported by Pilatus Switzerland.
“With the introduction of the new PC-7 Mk II trainer aircraft which were formally handed over to the Botswana Defence Force we are extremely proud to continue our long standing relationship with Botswana!” Pilatus said in a statement today.
Pilatus has sold more than 160 PC-7 Mk II aircraft, most recently to India, which chose the PC-7 over the more advanced PC-21.