Swiss aircraft builder Pilatus has unveiled its latest model - a high-tech turbo-prop designed for air force training.This content was published on April 30, 2002 - 17:45
The new PC-21 comes 11 years after the Pilatus Aircraft firm launched its successful PC-12.
The company believes the new aircraft can replicate the commercial success of the PC-12, a light passenger craft, popular with Australia's outback flying doctor's service and US drug enforcement agencies.
The PC-21 is a "low-wing", single-engine craft with a twin-cockpit, in which an instructor can control the aircraft independently of a student. It cost SFr200 million ($124 million) to develop.
The company says the new machine is also environmentally friendly, with low noise emissions and maintenance costs.
Three years of development
Design-work started on the PC-21 in 1999, and included consultation with air forces from South Africa, Australia, Great Britain and Switzerland.
After conducting the first flight in July, the company will begin extensive testing before building a second prototype. Pilatus hopes to make the first production aircraft available to customers from November 2004.
Potential owners will be looking at a price tag of between SFr8-9 million ($4.9-5.6 million).
Demand for the trainers, to be built in Stans in canton Nidwalden, is estimated at around 1,000 over the next 20 years.
swissinfo with agencies