Chilean military trainer Pillán will have a new generation

Chilean Air Force plans to acquire the new Pillán II, evolution of the T-35, an aircraft manufactured by ENAER in the 1980s

The little-known ENAER (Empresa Nacional de Aeronáutica), from Chile, officially launched at the end of October in partnership with the Chilean Air Force (FACh) the program for the development and production of the new Pillán II trainer aircraft, under a contract of $ 142 millions.

FACh plans to acquire 33 Pillán II aircraft for primary training missions. The aircraft is an evolution of the T-35 Pillán, which was ENAER’s first product and also the first aircraft designed (with assistance from Piper Aircraft) and mass-produced in Chile.

In service in the country since 1984, the T-35 will be replaced by the new single engine by the end of this decade – FACh operates 30 first-generation Pillán aircraft.

The Pillán II development and production program will last eight years, the Chilean Ministry of Defense said. The requirements definition and design phase, already completed, will be followed by an engineering and production phase of a prototype, which is expected to make its first flight in mid-2025. A subsequent test phase is expected to end in 2026, making room for for series production, with deliveries to FACh between 2027 and 2030.

Pillán II new trainer (ENAER)

ENAER, however, expects to continue with the production of the Pillán after 2030, mainly to serve the international market and in order to repeat the success of the original T-35, which totaled 150 aircraft produced.

The first generation of the Chilean two-seat single-engine aircraft was also exported to the armed forces of Ecuador, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, El Salvador, Spain and Panama.

Spirit of Volcanoes

The development of the new version of the Pillán, which means “Spirit of Volcanoes” in the indigenous Mapudungún language, has been going on through ENAER’s design offices since 2012. According to the manufacturer, the updated model is designed to replicate the interior of combat aircraft from new generation.

T-35 Pillán trainer aircraft (ENAER)

According to Pablo Astica, director of engineering at ENAER, “in addition to including aerodynamic improvements and a greater use of composites instead of metallic parts, the main feature of the Pillan II will be the installation of an advanced glass cockpit and avionics suite”.

Initially, the Chilean company planned to equip the aircraft with a turboprop engine, however, for reasons of cost and efficiency, a piston engine was chosen, like the first generation Pillán, but updated with a four-blade propeller.

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