New ‘Spectre’ PC-12s for the Air Corps
Photos courtesy of Air Corps Press Office
Yesterday the General Officer Commanding of the Irish Air Corps, Brigadier General Rory O’ Connor hosted the Minister for Defence, Simon Coveney TD, Secretary General of the Department of Defence, Ms Jacqui McCrum and the Defence Forces Chief of Staff, Vice Admiral Mark Mellett DSM at the official unveiling of the three new Pilatus ‘Spectre’ PC12NG that arrived from Denver, Colorado on 10 September.
The Fixed Wing Utility Aircraft (FWUA) Project Board selected the Pilatus PC-12NG as a suitable replacement for the Cessna FR172, which served 47 years in the Air Corps: a contract for three aircraft was signed in 2017.
The PC-12NG is a single-engine turboprop passenger and cargo aircraft manufactured by Pilatus Aircraft of Stans, Switzerland. The type has been in operation since 1991 and over 1,700 have been produced so far, with the fleet having accumulated over 7million flight hours.
The PC-12NG is a versatile multi-role aircraft with day/night, all weather capabilities. Powered by a Pratt & Whitney PT6A-67P engine, the aircraft can cruise at 520km/hr at an altitude of 30,000ft. With two pilots and up to nine passengers, it is facilitated by a large cargo door, offering significant versatility across a wide variety of roles, including passenger, cargo, medical and surveillance.
The utility of the aircraft is a result of the ease with which it can be reconfigured for various operations, carry large loads over a long range and operate from semi-prepared runways. The aircraft are configured as special mission platforms with appropriate mission and air ambulance equipment fitted. The aircraft houses a deployable electro-optical and infrared sensor suite, which provides for an in-flight 360-degree view, controlled through a mission operator station and a tactical flight officer.
The air ambulance kit is a LifePort stretcher system, which facilitates the carriage of patients and incubator, if required.
The three PC-12NG aircraft will be operated by 104 Squadron, No.1 Operations Wing, joining PC-12NG 280 which arrived earlier this year.
- The main roles for the aircraft will be:
- Logistics – Passengers (up to 9)Logistics – Cargo (up to 1½ Tonnes)
- Logistics – Passenger / Cargo mix
- Air Ambulance
- Surveillance – over land and coastal areas using sensor suite
- Medical Repatriation
In April, a decision was taken to purchase an additional PC-12NG to respond to Government taskings resulting from the Covid-19 global pandemic. To date, this aircraft has been utilised significantly throughout Europe and North Africa where it has completed a number of missions, including:
- Logistics Transport – CoVID Tests to Germany;
- Medical Repatriation of Defence Forces personnel from Germany and Kosovo;
- Service Support for Air Corps maintenance taskings;
- Troop Rotation – Defence Forces personnel to/from MINURSO in North Africa
- Air Ambulance – HSE support to the UK
In the coming weeks the aircraft will be brought onto the Air Corps military register and undergo mission system testing. Air Corps personnel (technicians, flightcrew and support personnel) will undergo familiarisation training, along with Defence Forces elements, prior to the aircraft becoming fully operational in the various roles.