Aviation Spotters Online

Aviation Spotters Online

Two plus Two – Pilatus PC-21 A54-003 and A54-004 touchdown in Darwin

Pilatus PC-21 A54-003 (HB-HWC) and A54-004(HB-HWD) have safely touched down in Australia on their delivery flight to the Royal Australian Air Force. With A54-001 and A54-002 having been delivered back in February this year, Pilatus is well under way to delivering the 49 aircraft order by the Royal Australian Air Force.

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PC-21 HB-HWC (A54-003)

It is a journey that begins in central Europe in the northern hemisphere, takes them half way around the globe, crossing the equator into the southern hemisphere to terminate in southern Australia.

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PC-21 HB-HWD (A54-004)

Again flying international routes under their Swiss registrations HB-HWC and HB-HWD, Pilatus pilots Patrick Willcock and Reto “Tödi” Amstutz landed their aircraft in standard RAAF PC-21 livery bearing the squadron markings of 2FTS (No 2 Flying Training School) based at RAAF Base Pearce, Western Australia.

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A54-003 “Invasion Stripes” underside of wing.

As with the first two aircraft delivered, Pilatus has had to blank out the RAAF serial designation numbers while in transit to Australia. While the PC-21’are painted in familiar red and white upper livery similar to the PC-9A, they also have the distinctive Southern Cross and ‘Invasion Stripes” painted on the dark blue undersides.

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A54-004 with Southern Cross underbelly.

The aircraft departed Buochs Airport (Pilatus Aircraft facility) in Stans, Switzerland approximately 0830 on Sat 29 April 2017. The first leg took them to Bari in Italy, where they refuelled and flew on to land at Heraklion on the island of Crete (Greece), for their first overnight rest.

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Closed for the night

Departing Crete the next morning they flew over the Mediterranean sea to Luxor in Egypt, then the Arabian desert to arrive in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Flying east initially, then turning to the south, they continued down the Persian Gulf to the United Arab Emirates, landing at Fujairah international.

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Waiting for the tanker

From the UAE it was another long ocean leg to India with stops in Ahmedabad and an unusual arrival pattern into Varanasi International Airport, especially for HB-HWC.

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Approach track into Varanasi Airport

Next stop Chittagong in eastern Bangladesh, followed by a track taking them across southern Myanmar (Burma), to end the flying day at Don Mueang International, Bangkok.

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A54-003 at the Pearl Jet Center apron.

May 3rd saw the aircraft fly south down the Gulf of Thailand to arrive at Seletar Airport in Singapore. A days rest was had before departing to Denpasar Airport in Bali on May 5th.

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Locking the canopy on A54-003

Departing at 0900 on the last day before touching down in Australia, HB-HWC and HB-HWD heading along the Indonesian archipelago to Kupang. A quick stop then the final 1h:45m ocean crossing to Darwin, landing at 1530 on the afternoon of  Saturday May 6th, 2017.

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Swiss registration with RAAF serial masked over.

After performing post-flight checks and a top up of the mains and external tanks at the Pearl Jet Centre at Darwin International Airport, it was off to the hotel for a well earned rest.

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Topping up the external tanks
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Offset prop and spinner

Although having touched down in Australia, there were still a couple of flights to conduct. Leaving on a balmy Darwin morning they departed south to Alice Springs firstly, then Broken Hill before finally arriving at East Sale, Victoria.

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Morning dew on the canopy
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Ready for taxi clearance
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Next stop – Alice Springs N.T
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Taxi for Rwy 11 departure – Darwin

This delivery completes the second paired flight from the Pilatus factory in Switzerland to RAAF Base East Sale in Victoria, Australia. They are destined for delivery and official hand over to the Royal Australian Air Force, eventually being on charge as A54-003 and A54-004, at No 2 Flying Training School (2FTS) based at RAAF Base Pearce, Western Australia. The first handover ceremony is reportedly scheduled for June this year at RAAF East Sale.

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Ready to complete the Australian legs.

With a flight time in excess of 30 Hours, 19,000+km with multiple forms of documentation, certification, customs and procedures to go through each trip, it is no walk in the park to deliver aircraft such distances. Somehow the Pilatus pilots make it all look a little too easy. So now we continue to look forward to the RAAF Pilatus PC-21 fleet gradually expanding, even if only by two aircraft each time.

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Basic route (google map)

HB-HWC and HB-HWC add to the existing two PC-21’s delivered back in February 2017 – A54-001 and A54-002. Click on the following link to read about their arrival First RAAF PC-21’a arrive in Australia

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A54-001 Darwin Feb 2017
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A54-002 Darwin Feb 2017

My gear is Nikon D7100, 18-55mm, 50mm, 70-200mm and 200-500mm. Sandisk extreme memory cards.

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