Pilatus PC-9

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RAAF PC-9.png
Role Basic/Advanced Trainer aircraft
National origin Switzerland, Australia
Manufacturer Pilatus Aircraft
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
Produced 1984–present
Number built 265
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[edit]

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, more than 250 aircraft of this type have been built.

Operational history[edit]

The first production aircraft for the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) flew on 19 May 1987, under the Australian designation PC-9/A.

Condor of Germany uses 10 examples of the target-towing variant.


Two-seat basic trainer aircraft.
Two-seat basic trainer for the Royal Australian Air Force. Built under licence in Australia by Hawker de Havilland.
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.[1] 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.


RAAF PC-9 operated by 2FTS
Bulgarian Air Force Pilatus PC-9M
Croatian Air Force aerobatic team Wings of Storm
Pilatus PC-9M of the Slovenian Armed Forces
Pilatus PC-9 at Bern-Belp Airport
Pilatus PC-9
Current operators in dark blue, former in light blue and civil in red.

Military operators[edit]

  • 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.
  • Chadian 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.[3]
  • 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.[4]
 Saudi Arabia
  • Swiss Air Force operates 14 aircraft delivered from 1987. Two returned to Pilatus after evaluation.

Former military operators[edit]

 United States

Civil operators[edit]

 United Kingdom

Specifications (PC-9M)[edit]

A view of the interior of the cockpit of a Pilatus PC-9 aircraft.

Data from Jane's All The World's Aircraft 2003–2004[6]

General characteristics

  • 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)

See also[edit]

Related development
Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era



  1. ^ Eddie Torson (March 1993). "Beech's J-PATS Candidate Reaches The Final Phase of Testing". Air Progress. 
  2. ^ "RAAF Aircraft PC-9." airforce.gov.au. Retrieved: 9 November 2012.
  3. ^ Goebel, Greg. "Pilatus Turbo-Trainers." airvectors.net. Retrieved: 9 November 2012.
  4. ^ "Two pilots die in Air Corps crash." RTÉ News. Retrieved: 9 November 2012.
  5. ^ Harding 1997, p. 202.
  6. ^ Jackson 2003, pp. 455–456.


  • Harding, Stephen. U.S. Army Aircraft Since 1947. Atglen, Pennsylvania: Schiffer Publishing Ltd., 1997. ISBN 978-0-76430-190-2.
  • Jackson, Paul. Jane's All The World's Aircraft 2003–2004. Coulsdon, UK: Jane's Information Group, 2003. ISBN 0-7106-2537-5.

External links[edit]