Pilatus PC-7 / Turbo Trainer-40 / Basic Trainer Aircraft
The HPT-32 aircraft being used as Basic Trainer Aircraft since 1986 were grounded in July 2009 due to safety reasons. Thereafter, the basic training has been shifted to Kiran Mk 1/1A aircraft earlier utilized for Intermediate training. Consequent upon the grounding of HPT-32 aircraft due to flight safety concerns and shifting of basic flying training to Kiran Mk-I/IA aircraft, the syllabus for basic flying training has been reduced, keeping the available resources in mind. However, flying hours have been increased in other stages of flying to ensure wholesome training.
There was a requirement of close to 173 trainer aircraft. Request for Proposal were floated for procurement of 75 basic trainer aircraft on multi-vendor basis. In addition, 106 basic trainer aircraft will be built by M/s Hindustan Aeronautics Limited. The Request for Proposal (RFP) for procurement of Basic Trainer Aircraft (BTA) for the Indian Air Force was issued on 16th December 2009.
In response techno-commercial proposals were received from M/s Korean Aircraft Industries, South Korea; M/s GROB Aircraft, Germany; M/s EADS PZL, Poland; M/s Hawker Beechcraft, United States of America; M/s Alenia Aerammachi, Italy; M/s Aerostar of Romania; and M/s Pilatus, Switzerland. The proposal for procurement of the trainer aircraft was progressed in accordance with the Defence Procurement Procedure-2008. No issues which are considered critical to flight safety had emerged during the technical evaluation of the aircraft. The estimated cost of the procurement is Rs.2900 crore. The three lowe bidders were the Pilatus PC-7 Turbo, Korean Aerospace KT-1 and the Hawker-Beechcraft T-6C Texan-II from U.S who made it to the final short list of three aircraft out of the six models which participated in flight trials in 2011.
As of 02 May 2012 the proposal for procurement of Basic Trainer Aircraft for the Indian Air Force (IAF) is awaiting consideration of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS). The proposal regarding the selection procedure of the Pilatus Trainer Aircraft had been progressed in accordance with the Defence Procurement Procedure. The case for procurement of the Basic Trainer Aircraft was processed through a multi-vendor procurement as per DPP-2008. Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI), protested in writing that Pilatus should be disqualified, as it had submitted an incomplete bid. That would have given KAI the contract, as the next-cheapest, fully-compliant bidder. For ten months, the contract was on hold as the MoD investigated KAI’s complaint. A representation submitted by M/s Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI), one of the bidders, was found to be devoid of merit. The Defence Procurement Procedure prescribed an indicative timeline for progressing procurement cases. All effort was made to adhere to these timelines.
The Swiss company, M/s Pilatus Aircraft Ltd, emerged as the L1 vendor. A contract for procurement of 75 Basic Trainer Aircraft was signed with M/s Pilatus Aircraft Ltd, Switzerland on 24 May 2012. The delivery of these 75 aircraft was scheduled from February 2013 to August 2015. Procurement of 75 Basic Trainer Aircraft was fast-tracked and the first training course on the new trainer aircraft ‘Pilatus’ was to commence in July 2013.
Pilatus Aircraft Ltd entered into a contract in excess of 500 Million Swiss Francs to procure a fleet of 75 PC-7 MkII turboprop aircraft, together with an integrated ground based training system and a comprehensive logistics support package. The contract also contained an option clause for extending the scope of this contract within three years from initial signature.
The Indian Air Force joined more than 30 other countries to modernise its training pipeline with the most modern, capable and cost effective system for Basic Flying Training on the market. This contract would extend the fleet of Pilatus turboprop trainers to more than 900 aircraft operating worldwide.
Delivery of the aircraft and the complete training system was scheduled to commence in Q4 2012. The decision to select the PC-7 MkII training system was made after a thorough evaluation by the Indian Air Force, which looked at all available options. Pilatus Aircraft Ltd viewed this contract for the Indian Air Force as a major success and believes it will encourage other forces to take a close look at Pilatus pilot training solutions.
Coupled to this award would be the establishment of in-country depot level maintenance capabilities, which includes the required transfer of technology to Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), enabling in-country maintenance of the platform throughout its service life of over 30 years. Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) was established in 1940 with the Government of India as primary shareholder, having approximately 35,000 employees based at eight sites across India.
Pilatus also entered into a separate off-set contract with the Government of India for 30% of the value of this contract and viewed this as a major opportunity. Pilatus has significant confidence in the Indian Defence market with its highly skilled workforce and it intended to leverage the offset opportunity to establish manufacturing capability for the region in support of business plans for India.
The IAF training academy at Dundigal on 31 May 2013 witnessed the induction of basic trainer aircraft Pilatus, PC-7 Mk-II, in the Air Force. Union Minister of State for Defence Jitendra Singh unveiled the Swiss made aircraft at a ceremony in Hyderabad. Led by Group Captain R S Nandedkar, three PC-7 MK II aircraft put up an air display for dignitaries, including Chief Secretary Andhra Pradesh P K Mohanty, Swiss ambassador Linus Van Castelmur and Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Training Command Air Marshal Rajinder Singh.
IAF is looking to build up an inventory of 181 trainers even as 59 Pilatus PC-7 aircraft from Switzerland have already been inducted and 38 more of them are in the process of being procured. In February 2013 it was reported that the IAF will order 37 additional the Pilatus trainer aircraft from Swiss manufacturer, Pilatus Aircraft Company, over and above the 75 trainers the IAF had already contracted for Rs 2,900 crore. That will take to 112 the number of Pilatus PC-7 Mark II trainers on order from the IAF.
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