Pilatus Aircraft

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Pilatus Aircraft
Industry Aerospace
Founded 1939
Products Fixed wing aircraft
Number of employees
Website www.pilatus-aircraft.com

Pilatus Aircraft Ltd. is an aircraft manufacturer located in Stans, Switzerland. The company employs 1,441 people.[1]


The PC-6 Porter was Pilatus' first aircraft to achieve widespread international success.
A Royal Malaysian Air Force Pilatus PC-7 Mk2

The company was established on 16 December 1939, and construction of a new production building started in March 1940. The first work for the new company was assembly of EKW C-35 reconnaissance biplanes from spare parts, and overhaul work on other types.[2]

The first design project was a single-seat trainer, designated the P-1, although it was abandoned before being built.[2] The next project was the construction of the SB-2 Pelican which had been designed by the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology.[2] The SB-2 first flew on 30 May 1944 only one of the five-seat light transports were built.[2]

In 1942, the company won a contract from the Swiss military to modify 33 EKW C-3603.[2] Following on from the abandoned P-1 design, the company started again on the development of a two-seat trainer, designated the P-2.[2] The P-2 first flew on 27 April 1945, and the company won an order for the Swiss Air Force.[2]

During 1945 the company produced a prototype single-engined light transport, designated the P-4, the P-4 first flew on 22 March 1948 but only one was built.[2] During the late 1940s the company produced a number of wooden glider designs and went on to produce fuselages and tail-booms for the licence-produced De Havilland Vampire and Venom.[2]

In 1951 the company worked on the P-5, a design project for an artillery observation aircraft; it was not built.[2] With production of the P-3 for the Swiss Air Force in progress the company achieved its first export order for six P-3s for the Brazilian Navy.[2]

In 1958 design work started on a short takeoff and landing (STOL) light civil transport aircraft, this emerged as the PC-6 Porter which first flew on 4 May 1959.[2] In 1965 a twin-engined variant of the PC-6 was built as the PC-8 Twin Porter, although it first flew on 15 November 1967 it remained an experimental and one-off type, and development was stopped in 1972.[2] Another project for the PC-10 16-passenger twin-engined transport was started but was not built.[2]

In a departure from the production of trainers and Porters the company bought the rights to the all-metal B-4 glider, Pilatus re-designed the B-4 for easier production and redesignated at the B-4/PC-11.[2] The PC-11 first flew on 5 May 1972 and the company went on to built 322.[citation needed]

In 1966 a turboprop-powered variant of the P-3 was flown, and was designated the PC-7.[2] The aircraft crashed and development was put on hold until the 1970s.[2] In 1975 a further prototype was flown, and after further development it was marketed as the PC-7 Turbo Trainer.[2]

In 1979, Pilatus acquired Britten-Norman, constructor of the Britten-Norman Islander and Britten-Norman Defender aircraft.[2]

In 1982 development of an improved variant of the PC-7 was started, it emerged as the Pilatus PC-9 in 1984.[2] Development of what was to become the companies best selling type the Pilatus PC-12 was started in 1987, a single-engined turboprop transport that could carry up to twelve passengers or freight.[2] The prototype PC-12 was flown on 31 May 1991.[2]

The first PC-12 Eagle surveillance aircraft was built in 1995, further developments led to the PC-12 Spectre, and in recent years adoption of the PC-12 by the USAF as the U-28A.

TSA Transairco SA of Geneva was procured by Pilatus in 1997. In 1998, Pilatus Australia Pty Ltd was established, while Britten-Norman was sold.[citation needed]

To further the family of military training aircraft, the turboprop PC-21 was developed and first flown in 2002.[2]

In December 2000, the owners Unaxis (previously called Oerlikon-Bührle) sold Pilatus to a consortium of Swiss investors. In July 2010 the company delivered its 1000 PC-12.[2]

In 2013, Pilatus created Pilatus Aircraft Industry (China) Co., Ltd to build PC-6 and PC-12 aircraft in Chongqing in a joint partnership with Beijing Tian Xing Jian Yu Science Co., Ltd.[3]


Name Description
Pilatus SB-2 Pelican.JPG Pilatus SB-2 1944
STOL transporter, only 1 aircraft
Pilatus P-1 1941
Single-seat trainer, project only
Pilatus P2.JPG Pilatus P-2 1942
Pilatus P-3 A-829.jpg Pilatus P-3 1953
PilatusP4frontseite.JPG Pilatus P-4 1948
STOL transporter, 1 prototype only
Pilatus P-5 1951
artillery observation aircraft, project only
HB-FCF in Dübi.jpg Pilatus PC-6 1959
STOL transporter
PC-7 - RIAT 2013 (9518758134).jpg Pilatus PC-7 1966
Turboprop trainer
PC-8D seite.jpg Pilatus PC-8D 1967
STOL transporter, only 1 prototype
PC9.JPG Pilatus PC-9 1984
Turboprop trainer
Pilatus PC-10 1970
Twin-engined transporter, project only
Pilatus B4-PC11 AF D-3993.jpg Pilatus PC-11 1972
Glider aircraft
HB-FOG Seite.jpg Pilatus PC-12 1991
Single-engined transport/biz turboprop
New Saudi PC-21.JPG Pilatus PC-21 2001
Turboprop trainer
PC 24 Roll-Out.jpg Pilatus PC-24 2014
Twin-engined transport/biz jet


Pilatus Aircraft has its headquarters, along with a production plant, on the Buochs Airport in the Swiss canton of Nidwalden. The headquarters and plant are in the municipality of Stans.

The company's wartime founding called for a location far from Switzerland's borders and right up against a ridge of Mount Pilatus. Original plans actually called for the factory to be built inside the mountain.[4]

Besides its day to day role as an aircraft factory, the Stans plant is perhaps best known for its use as a location for the film Goldfinger, and particularly the exterior shots where James Bond crashes his DB5 and is captured.[5][6]

Besides its Stans plant, the Pilatus group has plants at Adelaide in South Australia, Altenrhein in the Swiss canton of St. Gallen, and Broomfield in Colorado.[5]


  1. ^ "Personnel Figures". Pilatus Aircraft. Retrieved 30 August 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x Pilatus Aircraft Ltd - Chronicle
  3. ^ Aviation Week & Space Technology: 60. 23 October 2013.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  4. ^ Wallace, Lane "Pilatus in a Whole New Light", Flying Magazine , 2004-10-09, viewed 2013-09-14
  5. ^ a b "About Us". Pilatus Group. Retrieved 2013-01-19. 
  6. ^ "Location Guide - Goldfinger". mi6-hq.com. Retrieved 2013-01-19. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 46°58′32.61″N 8°22′52.74″E / 46.9757250°N 8.3813167°E / 46.9757250; 8.3813167