The global fleet of more than 1,900 Pilatus PC-12s has just passed ‘ten million flight hours’ milestone since delivery of the first model in 1991.
Images: Pilatus Aircraft Ltd
The fleet leader, based in Canada, has flown more than 35,000 hours, while 71 PC-12s have logged over 20,000 hours of flight time. As a whole, the PC-12 fleet has recorded more than 9.3 million landings, with four aircraft reporting over 50,000 landings.
“When the PC-12 was launched, this milestone seemed light-years away in the future,” said Ignaz Gretener, Vice President of Pilatus’ Business Aviation division. “You must give credit to the engineers who designed this incredibly robust airframe, the production team that builds outstanding quality into each unit, the sales team that found so many markets eager to adopt this versatile aircraft, and the support team so dedicated to keeping them in the air. We are especially grateful to our ownership base for trusting in Pilatus and helping us continuously improve the PC-12 so that it leads the market in sales year after year.”
Initially designed as a high performance utility aircraft with a large aft cargo door, the PC-12 is used by commercial and private operators from hauling cargo to an executive corporate transport. Some smaller regional airlines also use the aircraft for paying passengers, while government agencies use the aircraft for police work, armed forces, ambulance and surveillance. This has resulted in the PC-12 becoming the world’s best-selling pressurized, single-engined, turbine-powered aircraft for several consecutive years.
The idea of a single-engine turbine aircraft was first mooted publicly in October 1989. However, the project was worked on in secret for a number of years, as Pilatus believed this aircraft would fit into a new market segment not served by existing aircraft.
Two prototypes were completed in 1991, with certification expected in mid-1991, but a redesign of the wings by increasing the span and the addition of winglets delayed Swiss certification till March 1994. US FAA certification followed in July 1994.
In 2006, Pilatus announced the PC-12NG (Next Generation) at NBAA with official launch at the same event in 2007. The PC-12 NG features a more powerful P&W PT6A-67P engine, with an increased maximum cruise speed of 280 knots TAS (True Airspeed). Pilots also benefitted with a Honeywell Primus Apex glass cockpit.
The PC-12M (Multipurpose) is based on the NG model, but equipped with a more powerful electrical system, which makes this aircraft more suitable as an air ambulance, aerial photography and mapping, aerial surveillance and flight inspection.
The Pilatus PC-12 Spectre is a paramilitary special-mission version that features an optional utility door to accommodate parachute drops of people and cargo.
In December 2012, Pilatus officially opened its Chinese headquarters in Chongquing Liangjiang for its Asia-Pacific customers.
In October 2019, the PC-12 NGX was certified featuring full-authority digital engine control and a low-speed propeller mode to reduce cabin noise. This aircraft also features larger cabin windows and a redesigned cabin interior. Scheduled maintenance is extended to 600hors, while time between overhauls for the engine increases from 4,000 to 5,000 hours.
Listing price starts at USD4.39 million, with many aircraft topping the USD45 million mark with added options.
Pilatus leadership sees even greater future sales opportunities for the “World’s Greatest Single”.
Pilatus officials note that the global network of Pilatus sales teams is receiving increased interest in the PC-12 from flight departments looking for ways to continue to support their operational requirements with much greater efficiency.
Pilatus Chief Executive Officer Markus Bucher stated: “The PC-12’s past, present, and future success boils down to its appeal to a wide range of operations, its solid reliability, and its proven outstanding safety record. As an additional benefit, these attributes have resulted in PC-12 owners enjoying one of the highest levels of value retention among all business aircraft.”
“The secret to the PC-12’s success is really no secret at all. We continuously listen to our customers and strive to provide them with features, capabilities, and technologies to support the missions which are critical to them. With each aircraft and every individual owner and operator of a Pilatus aircraft, our goal is to become incrementally better,” said Ignaz Gretener, Vice President of Pilatus’ Business Aviation division.