Pilatus Aircraft

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Pilatus Aircraft
Founded10 December 1939
Area served
Key people
Markus Bucher (CEO)
Oscar J. Schwenk (Chairman)
ProductsFixed wing aircraft
Number of employees
1905 (June 2016)

Pilatus Aircraft Ltd. is an aerospace manufacturer located in Stans, Switzerland. In June 2016, the company employed 1,905 people.[1]

The company has mostly produced aircraft for niche markets, in particular STOL aircraft as well as military training aircraft. In the 1990s, with the introduction of the PC-12, a single-engine turboprop aircraft, Pilatus opened up a broader civilian market. With the PC-24, it offers a twin-engined STOL jet aircraft capable of operating from unpaved runways.


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 10 December 1939 by the armament company Oerlikon-Bührle, and construction of a new production building started in March 1940. The company was formed to do maintenance and repairs for the Swiss Air Force, the first work of 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 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 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 build 322.[citation needed]

In 1975 a further PC-7 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 company's 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] The PC-24 was designed based on feedback from PC-12 customers, who desired increased range and speed, but wanted to retain the PC-12's ability to use very short runways.[4]

The rollout of the first aircraft, HB-VXA, was on 1 August 2014 (Switzerland's national day). The aircraft's first flight was on 11 May 2015.[5] In 2016 Pilatus general aviation division delivered 117 aircraft: 91 PC-12s, 14 PC-21s, nine PC-6s and three PC-7 MkII and its revenue was 457 million Swiss francs (SFr.) ($459 million), up 30% from the previous year, 56% of Pilatus’s total revenues for 2016 of SFr. 821 million, its backlog on 31 December totalled SFr. 1.74 billion.[6]


Name Description
Pilatus P-1 1941
Single-seat trainer, project only
Pilatus SB-2 HB-AEP.jpg Pilatus SB-2 1944
STOL transporter, only 1 aircraft
Pilatus P2.JPG Pilatus P-2 1945
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
Pilatus PC-6 Turbo-Porter (D-FIBE) arrives Bristol Airport, England 14May2019 arp.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.[7]

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.[8][9]

Besides its Stans plant, the Pilatus group has plants at Adelaide in South Australia and in Broomfield, Colorado, United States.[8]


  1. ^ "Personnel Figures". Pilatus Aircraft. Retrieved 6 June 2016.
  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 Archived 2016-08-19 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ Aviation Week & Space Technology: 60. 23 October 2013. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  4. ^ Grady, Mary (21 May 2013). "Pilatus Introduces PC-24 TwinJet". AVweb. Retrieved 23 May 2013.
  5. ^ Trautvetter, Chad (11 May 2015). "Pilatus Jets into the Future with PC-24 First Flight". Aviation International News. Retrieved 11 May 2015.
  6. ^ Kate Sarsfield (2 May 2017). "Pilatus records successful 2016, with PC-12NG its star performer". Flight Global.
  7. ^ Wallace, Lane "Pilatus in a Whole New Light", Flying Magazine , 2004-10-09, viewed 2013-09-14
  8. ^ a b "About Us". Pilatus Group. Retrieved 2013-01-19.
  9. ^ "Location Guide - Goldfinger". mi6-hq.com. Retrieved 2013-01-19.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 46°58′33″N 8°22′53″E / 46.97583°N 8.38139°E / 46.97583; 8.38139