Pilatus PC-12

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"PC-12" redirects here. For other uses, see PC12 (disambiguation).
PC-12
Pilatus PC-12-45, Royal Flying Doctor Service AN0636290.jpg
Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia PC-12, launch customer and major user
Role Passenger and cargo aircraft
National origin Switzerland
Manufacturer Pilatus Aircraft
First flight 31 May 1991
Introduction 1994
Status In production
Primary users PlaneSense
Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia
United States Air Force
Produced 1991- present
Number built 1,400 (as of July 2016)[1]
Unit cost
$4,888,275 (2016)[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 United States Air Force's designation is the U-28A. The PC-12 holds the distinction of being the best selling pressurized, single-engine, turbine-powered aircraft in the world.[3][4]

Development[edit]

In October 1989, Pilatus announced the development of the PC-12 at the annual convention of the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA).[5][6]:80 Prior to the 1989 announcement, the PC-12 project had been worked on for some time under high levels of secrecy; by the time of the announcement, assembly of the first prototype had already commenced.[6]:81–82 Pilatus believed that the PC-12 would fit a new market not served by existing aircraft, and that the type would be the first single-engine aircraft capable of a large volume at high speed across long distances.[6]:82 The two prototypes were completed on 1 May 1991, with the first flight taking place on 31 May 1991.[7] Swiss certification of the type had been originally planned for mid-1991;[6]:81 however, a redesign of the wings (increase of wing span and addition of winglets to ensure performance guarantees were met) delayed progress. On 30 March 1994, the Swiss Federal Office of Civil Aviation issued the type certificate for the PC-12;[8] Federal Aviation Administration approval in the U.S. followed on 15 July 1994.[9]

Pilatus PC-12

Since entering service, Pilatus developed a large number of improvements and options upon the original PC-12 model; amongst these changes include increases in the maximum takeoff weight, the use of increasingly powerful engines, the adoption of new avionics, noise-reduction measures, new propellers, speed and range increases, additional interiors, and new in-flight entertainment systems.[10][11][12][13] Other aviation firms, such as Finoff Aviation Products, have also produced their own independent products and aftermarket enhancement packages for the PC-12.[4][14][15]

Pilatus announced the PC-12NG (Next Generation) at the 2006 NBAA meeting in Orlando, and officially launched it during the NBAA 2007 in Atlanta.[16] 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; prior to this, the PC-12 had been one of the only high end models to lack flat-panel avionics.[10][17] 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.[15] Within two years of launch, over 200 orders reportedly had been placed for the PC-12 NG.[17] In May 2008, the first PC-12 NG was delivered.[18]

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 utility door accommodates parachute drops of people and cargo. This version is marketed in the United States as the PC-12 Spectre paramilitary special missions platform.[19]

On 18 December 2012, Pilatus officially opened its Chinese headquarters in Chongqing Liangjiang and announced that manufacturing of the PC-12 for Asia-Pacific customers would take place on the Chinese production line at this site in the future.[20][21] In September 2014, it was announced that the production for various aerostructures for the PC-12 NG would be performed by Tata Aircraft Systems in India from 2016 onwards, these parts having previously been manufactured by PZL-Świdnik in Poland.[22][23]

Design[edit]

Pilatus PC-12 landing

The PC-12 is a single-engine turboprop-powered business aircraft, designed for performing in multiple roles and to deliver equal performance and safety to twin-engine aircraft. It is powered by a single Pratt & Whitney PT6A-67 engine; early models being powered by the PT6A-67B, while the later PC-12 NG variant uses the more powerful PT6A-67P, which is flat-rated at only 70% of its maximum power.[3][4] According to Pilatus, the PC-12 NG has exceptional versatility and is capable of operating within the most rugged environments, such as the Australian outback; it is one of the few pressurized turbine-powered aircraft capable of operating from rough landing strips.[3] A trailing-link landing gear arrangement is used to enable the PC-12 to access thousands of airfields that most jet aircraft would be incapable of using.[3][10]

The cabin interior of the PC-12 can accommodate up to nine passengers in a comfortable configuration, which includes features such as a refreshment center, a fully enclosed lavatory, and a baggage area to the rear of the cabin. Other cabin configurations include executive arrangements, seating between six and eight passengers, a four-seat passenger-cargo combi layout, and an air ambulance setup housing two litters and three attending medics.[3][10][24] The interior was designed in conjunction with BMW's Designworks division, making extensive use of leather, fine wood veneers and various textiles to create an environment deliberately akin to a luxury road vehicle.[17] An atypically large cargo door is installed to accommodate more bulky items, including palletised cargo.[3][10]

The PC-12 incorporates numerous safety measures. The PT6A-67 engine has a reputation for considerable reliability, a factor that has reportedly been decisive to some prospective operators.[10] To counteract stall and spin conditions, dual angle-of-attack sensors near the wingtips force the stick forwards in advance of a potential stall. For greater redundancy, the PC-12 NG has a complete split-bus dual electrical system as akin to modern jet aircraft, in addition to two separate batteries and a third emergency battery.[10][17] The type is certified for flight into known ice conditions; as per standard fit, pneumatic de-icing systems are installed in the wings and empennage, while electrical de-icing measures are integrated into the windshield and exhaust heat is used for engine inlet de-icing.[6]:84 Aviation Week describe the PC-12 as possessing "...comparatively slow take off and landing speeds, excellent short-field performance, and easy handling characteristics."[4]

PC-12 flight instruments and sub-panel, 2007

In addition to its uses as a passenger transport and private aircraft, the PC-12 can be configured as a multi-mission platform, such as an air ambulance or for conducting surveillance aircraft missions. In the latter role, a retractable Electro-optical/Infrared sensor may be installed into the aircraft's tail and an operator's console, containing two display monitors, a digital video recorder, communications panel, and expansion bays to accommodate various radios and datalinks, can be fitted in the main cabin area; the aircraft may be highly customized to meet customer's specific mission requirements.[19][25] In the multi-mission capacity, the type has seen use by various customers, including the Red Cross, the Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and the United States Air Force, among others.[3]

The type features a three-axis autopilot as standard, while radar, long range navigation systems and radar altimeter are optional.[6]:84 The flight desk of the PC-12 NG is equipped with Honeywell's Primus Apex avionics system, consisting of four 10-inch high-resolution liquid crystal display screens, two of which perform as the primary flight displays directly forward of either pilot, the other two being multi-function displays in a central position between the two pilots.[3] The Apex system shares many similarities to the flight decks of other business jets, and has been designed to minimize crew workload and provide for improved safety during single-pilot operations.[17] An advanced synthetic vision system, delivering greater situational awareness and safety during visual flight rules (VFR) flight, is also present.[3] The cockpit's layout is optimized for ergonomic and aesthetic appeal, providing similar comfort levels for the flight crew as to the passengers.[3][15] An engine condition monitoring system is present on the PC-12 NG, automatically monitoring engine parameters and producing relevant warnings, easing preventive maintenance efforts.[15]

Operational history[edit]

2007 Pilatus PC-12

Commercial, corporate, and private use[edit]

Early sales of the PC-12 principally went to utility operators, reportedly Pilatus were uncertain as of the sales potential for the aircraft to business and passenger operators early on.[10] In 1994, the Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia became the launch customer of the PC-12. It operates 32 PC-12s throughout Australia to deliver medical services in remote areas.[26]

The PC-12 has been often employed as a regional airliner as a replacement for older twin-engine aircraft, or to perform routes/missions that would have otherwise not been practical using more costly aircraft.[10][not in citation given] Over time, the PC-12 gained a greater following amongst fractional and charter operators, such as regional passenger airlines and by corporate clients, reportedly the size and comfort of the main cabin has been a key factor in the sales to these customers.[original research?]

In 2006, Flying Magazine referred to the PC-12 as "...more economical to operate than any turbine airplane of similar size."[15] In 2007, Flying Magazine described the high rate of value retention on used PC-12s as "unbelievable"—attributing this to the popular demand for the type.[27] High oil prices are a prominent sales factor for turboprops, and the PC-12 among them.[28][29] The bulk of demand comes from North America and three quarters of PC-12NG sales are in executive configurations.[30]

Pilatus also uses a series of overseas distributors to market and sell the PC-12 within designated regions. AMAC Aerospace is the exclusive sales agent for the type within the Middle East.[31][32]

In August 2014, Californian airline Surf Air placed an order for 15 PC-12 NGs and 50 options, one of the largest contract for the type.[33] PlaneSense, a New Hampshire-based fractional ownership company, claims to manage the largest fleet of the type,[34] operating 34 PC-12s in 2015.[35]

In June 2010, Pilatus announced that the 1,000 PC-12 had been delivered.[36] By August 2013, the worldwide PC-12 fleet had accumulated a combined total of 4 million flight hours and 1,200 PC-12s had been delivered to customers.[37] Just over a year after the 1300th, the 1400th PC-12 was delivered in July 2016. The fleet has accumulated 5.6 million total flight hours since certification, and 1 million flight hours for the 630 PC-12 NG since its introduction in 2008.[1]

Military operations[edit]

The PC-12 is Pilatus' first aircraft directed principally at the civil market. Despite the company historically being a military-oriented supplier, military sales for the type were considered a low priority during the early stages of development.[6]:82

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.[38]

Variants[edit]

PC-12/41
Original production variant certified in 1994 has a Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-67B engine, 4,100 kg (9,039 lb) maximum takeoff weight, conventional round-dial cockpit, starting at SN101.[39] Most, if not all of the /41s have been upgraded to /45s.
PC-12/45
Certified in 1996 has a Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-67B engine, maximum takeoff weight increased to 4,500 kg (9,921 lb).
PC-12/47
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.[40] SN684 to SN880.[39]
PC-12/47E
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.[41] Starting at SN1001.[39]
PC-12M Spectre
Paramilitary special missions platform marketed in the United States, originally called "Eagle".
U-28A
United States military designation for the PC-12.

Operators[edit]

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

Civilian[edit]

As of July 2016, 1,400 PC-12s have been delivered.[1] Most are used in the civil market.

Airline operators[edit]

 Bhutan
 Canada
 New Zealand
 Russia
 United States
 Tanzania

Former airline operators[edit]

 Canada

Other notable civil operators[edit]

 Australia
 Canada
 United States

Government[edit]

 Argentina
 Australia
 Canada
 United States

Military[edit]

 Afghanistan
  • Afghan Air Force ordered 18 PC-12NG variants for special operations use. (Similar to USAF U-28A);[50] to be delivered by July 2015. In addition Sierra Nevada Corporation will provide five SIGINT aircraft by the end of the year.[51]
 Bulgaria
 Finland
 South Africa
  Switzerland
 United States

Specifications (PC-12NG)[edit]

Weather radar on the wing of Pilatus PC-12 NG
PC-12 on the ramp

Data from Pilatus[57]

General characteristics

  • Crew: one or two pilots
  • Capacity: 6 to 9 passengers seats
  • Payload: (Full fuel, pilot on board)
    • Cargo : 704 kg (1602 lbs)
    • 9 Passengers : 623 kg (1423 lbs)
    • 6 Executive : 438 kg (1014 lbs)
  • Length: 14.40 m (47 ft 3 in)
  • Wingspan: 16.28 m (53 ft 4 in)
  • Height: 4.26 m (14 ft 0 in)
  • Wing area: 25.81 m² (277.8 ft²)
  • Empty weight: with 1 pilot :
    • Cargo : 2,810 kg (6,194 lbs)
    • 9 Passengers : 2,891 kg (6,373 lbs)
    • 6 Executive : 3,076 kg (6,782 lbs)
  • Max. takeoff weight: 4,740 kg (10,500 lb)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-67P turboprop, 1,200 shp (895 kW)
  • Maximum landing weight: 4,500 kg (9,921 lb)
  • Maximum zero fuel weight: 4,100 kg (9,039 lbs)
  • Usable fuel: 2,704 lbs (1,226 kg), 1,520 l (402 US gal)
  • Maximum payload: (pilot on board)
    • Cargo : 1290 kg (2845 lbs)
    • 9 Passengers : 1209 kg (2666 lbs)
    • 6 Executive : 1024 kg (2257 lbs)
  • Tail wingspan: 5.20 m (17 ft 1 in)
  • Propeller: 5 blade Hartzell Hartzell (Composite)
  • Propeller diameter: 2.67 m (8 ft 9 in)
  • Propeller RPM: 1,700 rpm

Performance

  • Cruise speed: 528 km/h (285 kts)
  • Stall speed: 124 km/hr (67 kts)
  • Range: 3,417 km (HSC, VFR Reserves) (1,845 nm)
  • Service ceiling: 9,144 m (30,000 ft)
  • Rate of climb: 585 m/min (MTOW) (1,920 ft/min)
  • Wing loading: 183.6 kg/m² (37.8 lb/ft²)
  • Power/mass: 5.3 kg/kW (8.75 lb/hp)
  • Takeoff distance : 793 m (2,602 ft), 15 m / 50 ft obstacle
  • Landing distance : 661 m (2,170 ft), 15 m / 50 ft obstacle
  • Fuel consumption: 250 l (66.0 US gal) per hour (500 nm trip, includes climb, cruise and descent, 265 kts average block speed)

Avionics
Honeywell Primus Apex

See also[edit]

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era

References[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Pilatus Delivers 1400th PC-12 and Achieves Major Flight Time Milestone" (Press release). Pilatus. 5 July 2016. 
  2. ^ "Business Airplanes Purchase Planning Handbook" (PDF). Business & Commercial Aviation. May 2016. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "PC-12 NG Brochure" (PDF). Pilatus. 15 July 2013. 
  4. ^ a b c d George, Fred (1 February 2014). "Finnoff PC-12 Upgrade". Aviation Week. Retrieved 21 February 2016. 
  5. ^ "Booming Business." Flight International, 23 September 1989.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g Moll, Nigel (November 1989). "A Swiss to Watch". Features. Flying. Vol. 116 no. 11. Diamandis Communications. pp. 80–84. ISSN 0015-4806. Retrieved 21 February 2016 – via Google Books. 
  7. ^ "PC-12 Makes First Flight". Reporting Points. Flying. Vol. 118 no. 8. Hachette Filipacchi Media U.S. August 1991. p. 20. ISSN 0015-4806. Retrieved 30 June 2016 – via Google Books. 
  8. ^ "Pilatus PC-12 Certified in Switzerland". Reporting Points. Flying. Vol. 121 no. 7. Hachette Filipacchi Media U.S. July 1994. p. 28. ISSN 0015-4806. Retrieved 21 February 2016 – via Google Books. 
  9. ^ Federal Aviation Administration (10 November 2015). "Type Certificate Data Sheet No. A78EU" (PDF). Retrieved 1 July 2016. 
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i McClellan, J. Mac (10 August 2010). "Pilatus PC-12: The Value of Only One Engine". Flying Magazine. 
  11. ^ Grady, Mary. "Pilatus Offers New Upgrades for It's PC-12 NG." Robb Report, 19 March 2014.
  12. ^ Marsh, Alton K. (16 November 2015). "Pilatus Boosts PC-12 NG Performance". AOPA. Retrieved 21 February 2016. 
  13. ^ Sarsfield, Kate (16 November 2015). "NBAA: Pilatus marks flight of second PC-24 and upgrades PC-12NG". Las Vegas: Flightglobal. Retrieved 21 February 2016. 
  14. ^ "Hartzell Introduces 5-Blade Carbon Fiber Propellers for PC-12 Fleet" (Press release). Las Vegas: Hartzell Propeller. 17 November 2015. Retrieved 21 February 2016. 
  15. ^ a b c d e McClellan, J. Mac (October 15, 2006). "Cabin Size Really Does Matter". Pilot Reports. Flying. Hachette Filipacchi Media U.S. 
  16. ^ "Pilatus Receives Excellent Feedback from Honeywell Apex Users" (PDF) (Press release). Stans: Pilatus Aircraft. 6 October 2008. Archived from the original (PDF) on 15 July 2011. Retrieved 14 June 2010 – via pilatusowners.com. 
  17. ^ a b c d e Goyer, Robert (September 8, 2008). "Next Big Thing: Pilatus PC-12 NG". Pilot Reports. Flying. Hachette Filipacchi Media U.S. 
  18. ^ O'Keeffe, Niall (24 April 2009). "Finnish Air Force opts for PC-12 liaison fleet". London: Flightglobal. Retrieved 21 February 2016. 
  19. ^ a b "Pilatus PC-12 Spectre." Pilatus Aircraft, Retrieved: 20 February 2016.
  20. ^ "Pilatus Aircraft to Set Production Base in Chongqing Liangjiang" (Press release). Chongqing, China. PR Newswire. 24 December 2012. Retrieved 23 February 2016. 
  21. ^ Wei, Xu. and Tan Yingzi. "Chongqing looking to the skies." China Daily, 16 April 2013.
  22. ^ Trautvetter, Chad. "Pilatus Taps India's Tata To Make PC-12 Aerostructures" AIN Online, 26 August 2014. Accessed: 4 September 2014.
  23. ^ Roa, Nithin. "Batting for defence." Tata Group, October 2014.
  24. ^ "Pilatus PC-12 Service Bulletin No 25-014, see section 1C(3)." Pilatus Aircraft, Retrieved: 6 October 2011.
  25. ^ Morrison, Murdo. "NBAA: Pilatus shows special mission Spectre PC-12." Flight International, 11 October 2011.
  26. ^ "Our Fleet". Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia. 
  27. ^ McClellan, J. Mac (September 5, 2007). "Best Used Turboprops". Pilot Reports. Flying. Hachette Filipacchi Media U.S. 
  28. ^ Sobie, Brendan (9 October 2008). "High oil prices lead to surge in executive turboprops". Flight International. 
  29. ^ Sarsfield, Kate (4 May 2009). "Singles continue to propel". Flight International. 
  30. ^ Sarsfield, Kate (8 May 2012). "Business jet manufacturers turn a corner". Flight International. 
  31. ^ Mathews, Neelam (15 May 2012). "Amac Opens Istanbul Facility, Prepares for PC-12 Sales". Aviation International News. 
  32. ^ Sarsfield, Kate (11 December 2012). "MEBA: AMAC and Pilatus join forces to promote PC-12 in Middle East". Dubai: Flightglobal. 
  33. ^ Sarsfield, Kate (18 August 2014). "Surf Air acquires up to 65 PC-12NGs for members only airline". London: Flightglobal. 
  34. ^ "Fractional aircraft ownership that make sense". PlaneSense. 
  35. ^ Mark Patiky (August 15, 2015). "Fractional Profile: PlaneSense Takes A Unique Heading". Aviation International News. 
  36. ^ "Pilatus Delivers the 1000th PC-12" (PDF) (Press release). Pilatus Aircraft. 15 July 2010. 
  37. ^ "Pilatus delivers 1200th PC-12". Skies Magazine. 13 August 2013. 
  38. ^ "New Special Ops PC-12 Unit." AirForces Monthly, Issue 269, September 2010, p. 21.
  39. ^ a b c Gerzanics, Mike (6 June 2016). "Upgraded Pilatus PC-12 powers ahead". Denver: Flightglobal. Retrieved 6 June 2016. 
  40. ^ "Philip Greenspun's Weblog". Retrieved 26 December 2014. 
  41. ^ "Philip Greenspun's Weblog". Retrieved 26 December 2014. 
  42. ^ "Airscene: Military Affairs". Air International, May 2000, Vol. 58, No. 5. p. 261.
  43. ^ "Western Australia Police Air Wing." police.wa.gov.au. Retrieved: 1 August 2011.
  44. ^ "Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority Aircraft Register." casa.gov.au. Retrieved: 1 August 2011.
  45. ^ "Ornge Adds New High Performance Medically Equipped Aircraft to Fleet" (Press release). Ornge. 7 October 2008. Retrieved 1 July 2016 – via Aviation.ca. 
  46. ^ "Office of Air & Marine ." cbp.gov. Retrieved: 1 August 2011.
  47. ^ "Despite recession, Phoenix police have new $4 mil plane ." azcentral.com. Retrieved: 8 August 2014.
  48. ^ "N395W." FAA. Retrieved: 1 August 2011.
  49. ^ "Colorado Unveils New Multi Mission Wildfire Fighting Aircraft" Denver Post
  50. ^ "Afghan SpecOps gets PC-12NG Transport Planes." defenseindustrydaily.com, 12 October 2012,
  51. ^ Jennings, Gareth (18 March 2015). "Afghan special forces to receive PC-12 SIGINT aircraft". www.janes.com. IHS Jane's Defence Weekly. Retrieved 4 August 2015. 
  52. ^ "Bulgarian military aviation OrBat." milaviapress.com. Retrieved: 1 August 2011.
  53. ^ "Pilatus PC-12 NG for Finnish Air Force" (Press release). Pilatus Aircraft. 24 April 2009. Archived from the original on 17 September 2009. Retrieved 7 May 2009. 
  54. ^ "South African military aviation OrBat." milaviapress.com. Retrieved: 1 August 2011.
  55. ^ "Swiss military aviation OrBat." milaviapress.com. Retrieved: 1 August 2011.
  56. ^ "U-28A" http://www.af.mil Retrieved: 18 August 2014.
  57. ^ "PC-12 NG Just The Facts" (PDF). Pilatus. 20 October 2015. 

Bibliography[edit]

  • Endres, Günter. The Illustrated Directory of Modern Commercial Aircraft. St. Paul, Minnesota: MBI Publishing, 2001. ISBN 0-7603-1125-0.

External links[edit]