|This article needs additional citations for verification. (October 2012)|
|A RAAF PC-9 of 2FTS|
|Role||Basic/Advanced Trainer aircraft|
|National origin||Switzerland, Australia|
|First flight||7 May 1984|
|Status||Active service in production|
|Primary users||Swiss Air Force
Royal Australian Air Force
Royal Saudi Air Force
Royal Thai Air Force
|Developed from||Pilatus PC-7|
|Developed into||T-6 Texan II|
The Pilatus PC-9 is a single-engine, low-wing tandem-seat turboprop training aircraft manufactured by Pilatus Aircraft of Switzerland. Designed as a more powerful evolution of the Pilatus PC-7, the PC-9's first flight was made in May 1984 after which certification was achieved in September 1985. After this, the first production orders for the type were received from the Royal Saudi Air Force, with deliveries commencing in 1985. Since then, more than 250 airframes have been produced across five different variants and the type is employed by a number of military and civilian operators around the world, including the Swiss Air Force, the Royal Australian Air Force, and the Royal Thai Air Force.
Design and development
The PC-9 is a more powerful evolution of the PC-7. It retains the overall layout of its predecessor, but it has very little structural commonality with it. Amongst other improvements, the PC-9 features a larger cockpit with stepped ejection seats and also has a ventral airbrake.
The PC-9 program officially started in 1982. Although some aerodynamic elements were tested on a PC-7 during 1982 and 1983, the first flight of the first PC-9 prototype took place on 7 May 1984. A second prototype flew on 20 July of the same year; this prototype had all the standard electronic flight instrumentation and environmental control systems installed and was thus almost fully representative of the production version.
Certification was achieved in September 1985. By this time, the PC-9 had lost the Royal Air Force trainer competition to the Short Tucano. However, the marketing links that Pilatus built up with British Aerospace during the competition led to their first order from Saudi Arabia.
As of 2004[update], more than 250 aircraft of this type have been built.
The first production aircraft for the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) flew on 19 May 1987, under the Australian designation PC-9/A.
- Two-seat basic trainer aircraft.
- Two-seat basic trainer for the Royal Australian Air Force. Built under licence in Australia by Hawker de Havilland. Croatia ordered three second-hand examples from the RAAF in 1997.
- Two-seat target-towing aircraft for the German Air Force. This target-towing version has an increased fuel capacity enabling flight for up to 3 hours and 20 minutes as well as two Southwest RM-24 winches under the wings. These winches can reel out a target up to 3.5 kilometres.
- This version was introduced in 1997 as the new standard model. It has an enlarged dorsal fin in order to improve longitudinal stability, modified wingroot fairings, stall strips on the leading edges as well as new engine and propeller controls. Croatia bought 17 new examples in 1997; Slovenia placed an order for nine (nicknamed Hudournik – "Swift") in December of the same year; Oman ordered 12 examples in January 1999; and Ireland signed a contract for eight in January 2003. Bulgaria purchased 12 aircraft in 2004. The last order was made by Mexico, which received at least two in September 2006.
- Beech Pilatus PC-9 Mk.2
- In order to compete in the United States JPATS competition, Pilatus and Beechcraft developed an extensively modified version of the PC-9, initially called the Beech Pilatus PC-9 Mk. II which won out over seven other contenders. It was later renamed the Beechcraft T-6A Texan II and is now built and marketed independently by Beechcraft. Over 700 are to be built for the United States Air Force and United States Navy, with Pilatus receiving royalties.
- Royal Australian Air Force operates 67 aircraft – two were supplied directly by Pilatus, 17 were assembled from Pilatus-supplied kits and 48 were built in Australia by Hawker de Havilland. The type is also used by the Roulettes aerobatic display team of the RAAF.
- Bulgarian Air Force operates six aircraft delivered in 2004.
- Croatian Air Force operates 20 aircraft – 17 PC-9M delivered new from 1997, as well as three second-hand examples. PC-9s are used for advanced pilot training and as a national aerobatic aircraft in a group called Wings of Storm.
- Chad's Air Force operates three PC-7s and one PC-9. The latter was delivered to Chad to replace a PC-7 which it had purchased from France.
- Irish Air Corps operates seven PC-9Ms delivered in late 2004. In 2005, the aircraft were upgraded and each aircraft is now equipped with two rocket pods and two machine gun pods. On 12 October 2009, a PC-9M was involved in a fatal crash near Cornamona, in County Galway, which killed both pilots.
- Mexican Air Force received two aircraft in 2006.
- Myanmar Air Force received 10 aircraft delivered from April 1986.
- Royal Air Force of Oman operates 12 aircraft delivered from 1999 to March 2000.
- Royal Saudi Air Force operates 50 aircraft delivered from December 1986. These examples were sold via British Aerospace.
- Slovenian Air Force and Air Defence operates 11 aircraft, designated PC-9M Hudournik. Three aircraft delivered from 1995 (one was lost in a crash in 2004) and nine aircraft delivered from November 1998. These examples have been upgraded by RADOM Aviation in Israel.
- Swiss Air Force operates 14 aircraft delivered from 1987. Two returned to Pilatus after evaluation.
- Royal Thai Air Force operates 23 aircraft delivered from 1991.
Former military operators
- United States Army operated three PC-9 from 1991–96 as chase and test aircraft, and were sold to Slovenia in 1995.
- Condor Flugdienst operated 10 aircraft for target-towing duties.
Accidents and incidents
In 2004, a Slovenian air force PC-9 crashed in Lenart, resulting in the death of Maj. Drago Svetina. It was later determined that the pilot suffered a heart attack before the accident.
In 2008, a pilot candidate accidentally ejected from a Slovenian air force PC-9, the aircraft was not damaged and returned safely at Cerklje ob Krki Airbase.
On 12 October 2009, a PC-9M belonging to the Irish Air Corps was involved in a fatal crash near Connemara, in County Galway, which killed both pilots. The accident report stated that the accident was probably caused by controlled flight into terrain following the loss of situational awareness.
A PC-9/A flown by the RAAF Roulettes crashed at RAAF Base East Sale on 18 May 2011 after suffering engine failure. Both occupants were able to eject prior to the aircraft impacting the ground. The incident resulted in the RAAF suspending all flights of the PC-9/A while it carried out an investigation. The aircraft were cleared to fly again at the end of June 2011.
Data from Jane's All The World's Aircraft 2003–2004
- Crew: one or two pilots
- Length: 10.14 m (33 ft 3 in)
- Wingspan: 10.125 m (33 ft 3 in)
- Height: 3.26 m (10 ft 8 in)
- Wing area: 16.29 m2 (175.3 sq ft)
- Empty weight: 1,725 kg (3,803 lb)
- Gross weight: 2,350 kg (5,181 lb)
- Max takeoff weight: 3,200 kg (7,055 lb)
- Powerplant: 1 × Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-62 turboprop, 857 kW (1,149 hp) flat-rated at 708 kW (950 shp)
- Maximum speed: 593 km/h (368 mph; 320 kn)
- Cruising speed: 556 km/h (345 mph; 300 kn) at 7,620 m (25,000 ft)
- Stall speed: 143 km/h (89 mph; 77 kn) EAS flaps and gear up, 128 km/h (80 mph; 69 kn) flaps and gear down
- Range: 1,537 km (955 mi; 830 nmi)
- Endurance: 4 hr 30 min
- Service ceiling: 11,580 m (37,992 ft)
- g limits: + 7.0 g to −3.5 g
- Rate of climb: 20.8 m/s (4,090 ft/min)
- Take-off distance over 50 ft (15 m) obstacle at sea level: 1,280 ft (391 m)
- Landing distance over 50 ft (15 m) obstacle at sea level: 2,295 ft (700 m)
- Hardpoints: Three hardpoints under each wing, inner two rated at 250 kg (550 lb), outer rated at 110 kg (240 lb)
- Related development
- Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era
- Eddie Torson (March 1993). "Beech's J-PATS Candidate Reaches The Final Phase of Testing". Air Progress.
- "RAAF Aircraft PC-9." airforce.gov.au. Retrieved: 9 November 2012.
- Goebel, Greg. "Pilatus Turbo-Trainers." airvectors.net. Retrieved: 9 November 2012.
- "Two pilots die in Air Corps crash." RTÉ News. Retrieved: 9 November 2012.
- Harding 1997, p. 202.
- "Bodies of Air Corps pilots removed from scene." rte.ie, 13 October 2009.
- "Accident Report No 2011-016: Pilatus Aircraft Ltd, PC-9(M), 265, Crumlin East, Cornamona, Connemara, Co. Galway, 12 October 2009." aaiu.ie. Retrieved: 9 November 2012.
- "Air Force plane crashes at Victorian airbase." ABC News. Retrieved: 9 November 2012.
- "Air Force planes cleared to fly again." ABC News. Retrieved: 9 November 2012.
- Jackson 2003, pp. 455–456.
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