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Pilatus PC-12

Pilatus PC-12 Sentinel of the U.S. Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement
Role Passenger and cargo aircraft
National origin Switzerland
Manufacturer Pilatus Aircraft
First flight 31 May 1991
Introduction 1994
Status In production
Primary users Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia
United States Air Force
Produced 1991- present
Number built 1,300 (by early 2014)[1]
Unit cost
$4.582 million (2013)[2]

The Pilatus PC-12 is a single-engine turboprop passenger and cargo aircraft manufactured by Pilatus Aircraft of Switzerland. The main market for the aircraft is corporate transport and regional airliner operators. The U.S. Air Force's designation is the U-28A.


  • Design and development 1
  • Operational history 2
    • Commercial, corporate, and private use 2.1
    • U.S. Air Force operations 2.2
  • Variants 3
  • Operators 4
    • Civilian 4.1
      • Airline operators 4.1.1
      • Former airline operators 4.1.2
      • Other notable civil operators 4.1.3
    • Government 4.2
    • Military 4.3
  • Specifications (PC-12) 5
  • See also 6
  • References 7
    • Notes 7.1
    • Bibliography 7.2
  • External links 8

Design and development

Pilatus announced the development of the PC-12 at the annual convention of the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) in October 1989.[3] The two prototypes were completed on 1 May 1991, with the first flight taking place on May 31, 1991.[4] Certification of the type was originally planned for mid-1991 but a redesign of the wings (increase of wing span and addition of winglets to ensure performance guarantees were met) delayed this. Swiss certification finally took place on 30 March 1994, and U.S. Federal Aviation Administration approval followed on 15 July 1994.

As with many other Pilatus aircraft, the PC-12 is powered by a single Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6 turboprop engine (the PT6A-67B). It is certified for single-pilot IFR operations, though operators may choose to use a second flight crew member. Pilatus offers the PC-12 in a standard nine-seat airliner form, in a four-passenger seat/freight Combi version, and as a six-seat corporate transport with an option for a seven-seat by adding a three-seat bench in place of seats five and six.[5] A pure freighter model is under consideration.

Pilatus PC-12

The PC-12M (Multipurpose) is based on the PC-12 NG, but equipped with a more powerful electrical generation system that enables addition of additional power-consuming equipment. This enable the PC-12M to perform missions such as flight inspection, air ambulance, aerial photography, and aerial surveillance. An optional utiity door permits persons and cargo to be air-dropped by parachute. This version is marketed in the United States as the PC-12 Spectre paramilitary special missions platform.[6]

Pilatus announced the PC-12NG (Next Generation) at the 2006 NBAA meeting in Orlando, and officially launched it during the NBAA 2007 in Atlanta.[7] The NG features a more powerful Pratt & Whitney PT6A-67P engine with better climb performance and an increase in maximum cruise speed to 280 kts TAS. The NG also features a Honeywell Primus Apex glass cockpit. The revised cockpit includes automatic pressurization control as well as cursor controlled inputs to the navigation system. The PC-12 NG winglets have also been modified from the original version.

From 2016 to 2026, NG structures will no longer be produced at PZL-Świdnik in Poland, but at Tata Aircraft Systems in India.[8]

Operational history

Pilatus PC-12 in landing configuration
2007 Pilatus PC-12 at Mariposa Yosemite Airport
2007 Pilatus PC-12 Instruments and Sub-Panel

Commercial, corporate, and private use

Most PC-12s are used as corporate transports, but recent regulatory changes in Australia, Brazil, Canada, and the United States have cleared single engine turboprops such as the PC-12 for regional passenger transport operations in those countries. This opens a new market for the PC-12 as a regional airliner that would replace older twin piston-engined aircraft.

PlaneSense, a New Hampshire-based fractional ownership company, is the largest fractional operator of PC-12s, operating 34 PC-12s.[9]

In 1994, the Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia was the launch customer of the PC-12 and now operates more than 36 PC-12 aircraft across Australia.

U.S. Air Force operations

The U-28A is the United States Air Force variant of the PC-12 for intra-theater support of special operations forces. The 319th Special Operations Squadron is stationed at Hurlburt Field, Florida at the headquarters of the Air Force Special Operations Command. The 34th Special Operations Squadron (SOS) was activated on 9 April 2010 as the second U-28A unit at Hurlburt Field. Both squadrons operate as part of the 1st Special Operations Wing/ 1st Special Operations Group (SOG) at Hurlburt Field. The Pilatus PC-12 is also operated by the 318th Special Operations Squadron as part of the 27th Special Operations Wing at Cannon Air Force Base, New Mexico.[10]


Original production variant certified in 1994 has a Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-67B engine. Most, if not all of the /41s have been upgraded to /45s.
Certified in 1996 has a Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-67B engine, maximum takeoff weight increased to 4,500 kg (9,921 lb).
Certified in 2005 has a Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-67B engine, maximum takeoff weight increased to 4,740 kg (10,450 lb). Cabin noise measured at 85 dBA in cockpit and 81 dBA at passenger seats.[11]
Variant certified in 2008 has upgraded avionics and a Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-67P engine. Sometimes known by its trade name PC-12 NG (Next Generation). Cabin noise measured at 90 dBA in cockpit and 85-87 dBA at passenger seats.[12]
PC-12M Spectre
Paramilitary special missions platform marketed in the United States, originally called "Eagle".
United States military designation for the PC-12.


Pilatus PC-12 taking off from short, unimproved airfield
Right wing with winglet, weather radar, and de-icing boot
Pilatus PC 12 next to a pair of Challenger 600 jets.
2007 Pilatus PC-12
Pilatus PC-12 NG


As of June 2010, more than 1000 PC-12s have been sold; most are used in the civil market.[13]

Airline operators

 New Zealand
 United States

Former airline operators


Other notable civil operators

 United States


 United States


  • Afghan Air Force ordered 18 PC-12NG variants for special operations use. (Similar to USAF U-28A);[21] to be delivered by July 2015. In addition Sierra Nevada Corporation will provide five SIGINT aircraft by the end of the year.[22]
 South Africa
  • Swiss Air Force operates one PC-12 for research flights and VIP transport.[26]
 United States

Specifications (PC-12)

RCMP PC-12, Winnipeg c. 2007
Weather radar on the wing of Pilatus PC-12 NG

Data from Pilatus web[28]

General characteristics
  • Crew: one or two pilots
  • Capacity: 9 passengers standard, 6-8 executive
  • Payload: 1,500 kg (3,502 lb)
  • Length: 14.40 m (47 ft 3 in)
  • Wingspan: 16.23 m (53 ft 3 in)
  • Height: 4.26 m (14 ft 0 in)
  • Wing area: 25.81 m² (277.8 ft²)
  • Empty weight: 2,761 kg (5,867 lb)
  • Loaded weight: 4,700 kg (10,450 lb)
  • Max. takeoff weight: 4,740 kg (10,450 lb)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-67B or -67P turboprop, 895 kW (1,200 shp)
  • Maximum landing: 4,500 kg (9,921 lb)
  • Maximum payload full fuel: 539 kg (1,189 lb)
  • Tail wingspan: 5.20 m (17 ft 1 in)
  • Propeller: Hartzell HC - E4A - 3D/E10477K – 4 blade aluminum
  • Propeller diameter: 2.67 m (8 ft 9 in)
  • Propeller RPM: 1,700 rpm


  • Cruise speed: 500 km/h (312.5 mph/270 KTAS/280 KTAS @ 20000 ft (PC-12NG))
  • Stall speed: 120 km/h (74.8 mph/ 65 KCAS/66 KCAS (PC-12NG))
  • Service ceiling: 9,150 m (30,000 ft)
  • Rate of climb: 512 m/min at sea level (1,680 ft/min)
  • Wing loading: 174.3 kg/m² (35.7 lb/ft²)
  • Power/mass: 3.7 kg/shp (8.2 lb/shp)
  • Range 0 passenger: 3,389 km (1,830 nm)
  • Range 9 passenger: 2,804 km (1,753 mi) (1,513 nm)
  • Takeoff distance over 15 m (50 ft) obstacle: 701 m (2,300 ft)
  • Takeoff distance ground roll: 450 m (1,475 ft)
  • Landing distance over 15 m (50 ft) obstacle: 558 m (1,830 ft)
  • Landing distance ground roll: 228 m (945 ft)
  • Climb to 30,000 ft: 26.5 minutes[29]
  • Fuel consumption: 360 pounds per hour (54 gph)[30]

Honeywell Primus Apex (PC-12NG)

See also

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era



  1. ^ "Pilatus introduces enhancements to PC-12 NG" Flight Global Retrieved: 12 March 2014.
  2. ^ "Pilatus PC-12 Versus the World" Flying Retrieved 29 July 2015.
  3. ^ "Booming Business." Flight International, 23 September 1989.
  4. ^ "Pilatus PC-12 makes first flight." Flying Magazine, August 1991, p. 20.
  5. ^ "Pilatus PC-12 Service Bulletin No 25-014, see section 1C(3)." Retrieved: 6 October 2011.
  6. ^ Pilatus PC-12 Spectre brochure
  7. ^ "Pilatus press release.", 6 October 2008.
  8. ^ Trautvetter, Chad. "Pilatus Taps India’s Tata To Make PC-12 Aerostructures" AINonline, 26 August 2014. Accessed: 4 September 2014.
  9. ^ "Planesense." Retrieved: 1 August 2011.
  10. ^ "New Special Ops PC-12 Unit." AirForces Monthly, Issue 269, September 2010, p. 21.
  11. ^ "Philip Greenspun's Weblog". Retrieved 26 December 2014. 
  12. ^ "Philip Greenspun's Weblog". Retrieved 26 December 2014. 
  13. ^ "Pilatus press release." Retrieved: 1 August 2011.
  14. ^ "Western Australia Police Air Wing." Retrieved: 1 August 2011.
  15. ^ "Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority Aircraft Register." Retrieved: 1 August 2011.
  16. ^ "Ornge adds new high performance medically equipped aircraft to fleet." Ornge, 7 October 2008. Retrieved: 20 August 2009.
  17. ^ "Office of Air & Marine ." Retrieved: 1 August 2011.
  18. ^ "Despite recession, Phoenix police have new $4 mil plane ." Retrieved: 8 August 2014.
  19. ^ "N395W." FAA. Retrieved: 1 August 2011.
  20. ^ "Colorado Unveils New Multi Mission Wildfire Fighting Aircraft" Denver Post
  21. ^ "Afghan SpecOps gets PC-12NG Transport Planes.", 12 October 2012,
  22. ^ Jennings, Gareth (18 March 2015). "Afghan special forces to receive PC-12 SIGINT aircraft". (IHS Jane's Defence Weekly). Retrieved 4 August 2015. 
  23. ^ "Bulgarian military aviation OrBat." Retrieved: 1 August 2011.
  24. ^ "Pilatus press release." Retrieved: 1 August 2011.
  25. ^ "South African military aviation OrBat." Retrieved: 1 August 2011.
  26. ^ "Swiss military aviation OrBat." Retrieved: 1 August 2011.
  27. ^ "U-28A" Retrieved: 18 August 2014.
  28. ^ Performance & Specs PDF Fact sheet
  29. ^ Flying September 2008, page 3.
  30. ^ Flying September 2008, page 4.


  • Endres, Günter. The Illustrated Directory of Modern Commercial Aircraft. St. Paul, Minnesota: MBI Publishing, 2001. ISBN 0-7603-1125-0.
  • The information on the U-28A was obtained from an official United States Air Force fact sheet

External links

  • Pilatus PC 12 official manufacturer's web page
  • Flight International article on the Pilatus PC-12 Next Generation
  • Flying Magazine article on the Pilatus PC-12 Next Generation
  • European Aviation Safety Agency - Type Certificate Data Sheet A.089 PC-12 Propeller and noise
  • Project Information on Pilatus PC-12 Single-Turboprop Executive Aircraft
  • (Air Force Special Operations Command's aircraft and review)The SOF , by Marc V. Schanz, June 2010, Vol. 93, No. 6.]
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