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.
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. The first flight of the first of two prototypes took place on May 31, 1991. 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 March 30, 1994, and U.S. Federal Aviation Administration approval followed on July 15, 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 utilize 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. A pure freighter model is under consideration.
The PC-12M (Multipurpose) is based on the PC-12, but equipped with a more powerful electrical generation system that enables integration of additional power-consuming equipment. This enables the PC-12M to perform special missions such as flight inspection, air ambulance, parachutist dropping, aerial photography, and aerial surveillance. This version is marketed in the United States as the PC-12 Spectre paramilitary special missions platform.
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.
Pilatus unveiled the PC-12NG (Next Generation) at the 2007 NBAA meeting in Atlanta. The NG features a more powerful Pratt & Whitney PT6-67P engine with better climb performance and an increase in maximum cruise speed to 280kts TAS. The NG also features a Honeywell 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.
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 potential market for the PC-12 as a regional airliner that would replace older twin piston-engined aircraft.
1994 the Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia was the launch customer of the PC-12.
Accidents and incidents
On March 22, 2009, a PC-12/45 with the aircraft registration number N128CM, owned by the Eagle Cap Leasing of Enterprise, Oregon, crashed on approach to the Bert Mooney Airport in Butte, Montana. The aircraft had departed from Oroville, California, and diverted from the original destination of Bozeman, Montana for unknown reasons. All 14 people on board were killed: one pilot and 13 passengers, seven of whom were young children. Reports indicate the flight was taking the passengers to a skiing trip in Bozeman.
More than 780 PC-12s have been sold as of June 2008; most are used in the civil market.
Present Airline Operators:
Published - July 2009
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