(October 15, 2009) -- The South African Air Force (SAAF) has contracted Pilatus to integrate an avionics upgrade on 35 of their Pilatus Astra PC-7 MkII fleet. The main objective of the upgrade is to remove the obsolete avionic equipment from the fleet and replace it with new modern "glass cockpit" components that will be procurable and supportable until the aircraft's out of service date.
The trial installation aircraft upgrade was performed at Pilatus Aircraft in Switzerland during 2009. This trial installation was used to validate the modifications, kit lists, tooling, and procedures required to perform the modifications of the remainder of the aircraft in South Africa. The first flight of the modified aircraft took place on 23 September 2009 and was a significant achievement on the programme schedule.
The modification of the rest of the fleet will be embodied by Aerosud, under contract to Pilatus, at Langebaanweg Air Force Base in South Africa. Aerosud will be supported by Pilatus Field Service Engineers during the initial embodiment period. The first in-country aircraft modification is scheduled to commence in mid November 2009 after which the remainder of the aircraft will be modified in a staggered approach. The duration of the fleet embodiment in South Africa is expected to be three and a half years.
The contract also includes two new Flight Training Devices, Training, Ground Based Training Systems and Spares.
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