Service history of the Pilatus PC-7 Turbo Trainer with the RNLAF
The Pilatus PC-7 is a low-wing tandem-seat turbo training aircraft,
manufactured by Pilatus Aircraft of Switzerland. The aircraft is capable
of all basic training functions including aerobatics, instrument,
tactical and night flying. It has been selected by more than twenty air
forces as their lead in trainer. Since the aircraft's introduction in
1978, close to five-hundred have been sold, with the majority still in
The first series of the aircraft was delivered to the Myanmar Air Force
Delivery to the Royal
Netherlands Air Force
A requirement for a lead in trainer become
obvious in 1988 after to many Dutch aspirant-pilots were unable to
finish their flight training in the United States. To combat this
problem it was decided to create a flight were trainees would make their
first hours of basic training before proceeding to the training in the
United States the Elementary Military Flight Training (EMVO). For the
fulfilment of this task ten Pilatus PC-7 were ordered by the Royal
Netherlands Air Force in 1988.
The first Pilatus PC-7 aircraft were delivered in February 1989 and put
into use for basic training of pilots at the Elementary Military Flight
Training, the later 131 squadron. The KLu Pilatus PC-7 have a
lightweight Martin Baker ejection chair and can also be used in bad
weather. The aircraft are stationed at Woensdrecht.
Three more Pilatus PC-7 were delivered in 1997 to obtain more training
capacity. As naval pilots also started to make use of this training. The
Pilatus PC-7 were later given a glossy black trim, for increased
visibility and safety.
After their study at the Royal Military Academy the student pilots are
transferred to the 131 squadron ( the former Elementary Military Flight
Training ) located at Woensdrecht air base and they have to follow the
"Elementary Military Flight Education". When arrived they start the
theoretical ground training for three months. This includes hours on the
flight simulator, After successfully finishing this period they start
flying on board of the Pilatus PC-7 and make around forty flight hours.
131 Squadron still offers an effective and affordable program in order
to prepare aviators for their successive study with different types of
aircraft. Since the establishment in ’88, the dropout percentage has
been reduced to nearly zero percent.
Since 1995 a standard Pilatus PC-7 is used for display purposes at several
events both in the Netherlands and abroad. The team uses two smoke pods under the wings.
It uses two aircraft, one operational demonstration aircraft plus one spare.
Not only fighter pilots, but also pilots for the Apache combat
helicopter, Chinook transport helicopter and the NH90 maritime
helicopter, for example, must first pass the elementary training at 131
Squadron before they can continue their training course. The future F-16
pilots then specialize at Sheppard Air Base and the helicopter pilots at
Fort Rucker in the United States.
The July 2015 contract between the Dutch Defence Materiel Organisation (DMO)
and Pilatus initially covered upgrade of ten Pilatus PC-7 delivered in
1989, but was later extended to include the additional three aircraft
delivered in 1997.