The 36 T-35C so far operational will be replaced by 14 PC-21 and simulators

The nostalgic farewell of the Spanish Air Force to its T-35C Pillán after 36 years of service

With the end of the course comes the time of the farewells. This week we have received two very significant ones in the Spanish Armed Forces.

The government will drastically reduce the fleet of basic trainers of the Spanish Air Force
The Spanish Air Force will be one of the largest operators of the Pilatus PC-21 with 40 aircraft

This Tuesday we saw the farewell to the Hughes 500 Cayuse of the 6th Squadron of the Navy, helicopters that have served for 51 years in teaching and other missions. Today the Air Force said goodbye to its ENAER T-35C Pillán, known as E-26 Sieve in its military designation Spanish.

"The E-26 Tamiz conventional aircraft completed its last teaching flight on June 6 at the General Air and Space Academy, after having completed 117,790 flight hours", has pointed out the Spanish Air Force. "This aircraft has been in charge of carrying out during its time of operation the elementary education of future pilots of the Air and Space Army. Commanders Tarragó and Atienza were the ones who, together with to the ensign students of the 76th promotion, Griñán and Pina, made the last landing of an instruction flight aboard the E.26 Tamiz."

The ENAER T-35 Pillán is a training aircraft designed and built in Chile and which made its first flight in 1981. At that time there was a curious exchange between the two Hispanic countries: Chile bought 35 C-101 Aviojets (27 of them manufactured by ENAER in Chile under license; currently all are withdrawn from service) and in 1985 Spain bought 41 T-35Cs, the latest version of this model. All 41 were built by CASA in Spain, under license from ENAER.

The Pillán family replaced the Beechcraft T-34 Mentor and Bücker Bü-131 in basic teaching tasks at the General Air Academy. In these 36 years, according to Aviation Safety Network, 5 T-35C Pillán of the Air Force were lost in accidents that occurred in 1989, 1991, 1992, 2001 and 2019. Two of these accidents were fatal and four crew members died in them (in 1989 and 2019).

The E-35C have been replaced in their teaching work by the much more modern and powerful ones Pilatus PC-21, turboprop aircraft with highly advanced avionics Advanced and configurable based on each teaching mission. Spain placed an initial order for 24 PC-21s in 2020 to replace C-101 Aviojets on their Air General Academy (AGA) training missions. In March another 16 PC-21s were purchased. Of those 16, two are for the Centro Logístico de Armamento y Experimentación (CLAEX) of the Spanish Air Force, based in Torrejón de Ardoz (Madrid), and the remaining 14 will be for the AGA.

This is a considerable reduction in the Air Force training aircraft fleet, a reduction that is partly explained by budget cuts and partly by the fact that part of the teaching of flight is now done in simulators. In fact, the latest batch of PC-21s purchased by Spain includes two cockpit simulators for procedures training and a FFS flight simulator (Full Flight Simulator).

You can see here the nostalgic farewell video that the Spanish Air Force dedicated today to the T-35C:

Thank you for these 36 years of service to our small Chilean aircraft. Bravo Zulu!


Photos: Ejército del Aire / Elentir.

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