Pilatus PC-7

The Pilatus PC-7 Turbo Trainer is a low-wing tandem-seat training aircraft, manufactured by Pilatus Aircraft of Switzerland. The aircraft is capable of all basic training functions including aerobatics, instrument, tactical and night flying. It has been selected by more than 20 air forces as their ab initio trainer. Since the aircraft's introduction in 1978, close to 500 have been sold, with the majority still in service. Over one million hours have been flown by PC-7s worldwide.

Pilatus PC-7
Class Aircraft
Type Trainer
Manufacturer Pilatus Aircraft
Origin Switzerland
Country Name Origin Year
Switzerland 1966
Country Name Operational Year Retirement Year
Angola View
Austria View
Bolivia View
Brunei View
Chad View
Chile View
Guatemala View
India View
Iran (Persia) View
Malaysia View
Mexico View
Netherlands View
South Africa View
South Africa View
Switzerland 1978 View
United Arab Emirates View
Uruguay View
Botswana View
Myanmar View
ManufacturerName Production From Production To Quantity
Pilatus Aircraft 1966 618 View

The PC-7 is based on the earlier piston-powered Pilatus P-3. The first prototype, modified from the prototype P-3 by replacing its Lycoming O-435 engine with a Pratt & Whitney PT6A-20 turboprop, flew on 12 April 1966, but after a crash the PC-7 programme was shelved.

In 1973, the programme was restarted and another P-3 was obtained from the Swiss Air Force. After modification, this aircraft flew on 12 May 1975. Further extensive modifications followed later in the programme, including a new one-piece wing with integral fuel tanks, an altered tailfin and a bubble canopy.

The first production aircraft flew on 12 August 1978. Swiss civil certification followed on 5 December of the same year, with deliveries, to Burma and Bolivia starting immediately thereafter.

The aircraft is also used by private customers and is both FAA and FOCA civil certified to comply to the general aviation regulations in Europe and the USA.

The PC-7 Mk II is a development of the PC-9's airframe and avionics, fitted with the PC-7's smaller turbine to lower operating and maintenance costs. It is used by the South African Air Force, with sixty examples having been manufactured. The aircraft were assembled in South Africa from kits supplied by Pilatus. The value of the contract was estimated to be 175 million USD in 1993. Due to political considerations, the aircraft were not fitted with the armament hardpoints. Four PC-7 Mk II aircraft are used by the air force of Brunei.

Variants

  •     PC-7 : two-seat basic trainer aircraft, powered by PT6A-25A engine rated at 410 kW (550 shp).
  •     PC-7 Mk II is a development of the PC-9's airframe and avionics, retaining the PC-7's wing to mount external stores. Powered by PT6A-25C of 522 kW (700 shp) rather than more powerful PT6A-62 of PC-9. Developed for the SAAF, and known as the "Astra"; the aircraft is a hybrid PC-7 and PC-9, either a PC-7 "Heavy" or a PC-9 "Lite" depending on point of configuration.
  •     NCPC-7 : upgraded version of the standard PC-7 with fully IFR glass cockpit avionics, developed for the Swiss Air Force.


PC-7s were used by the Iraqi Air Force for close air support in the Iran-Iraq war. They were also used to deliver chemical weapons against Iranian troops.

The Chadian Air Force has used its small fleet of PC-7s to bomb rebel positions both in their own territory and in neighboring Sudan.

PC-7s were employed by the Guatemalan Air Force in air strikes and for close air support during the Guatemalan civil war, starting in 1982 until the end of the conflict in 1996. The PC-7s deployed from the airfield in La Aurora armed with gunpods and light rocket launchers.

In 1994, Mexican Air Force armed PC-7s were used to attack Zapatista Army of National Liberation during the Chiapas conflict in Mexico. This action was considered illegal by the Swiss government because the airplanes were sold for training purposes only, and as result, Switzerland issued a ban to sell more units to Mexico.

In the mid to late 1990s, Executive Outcomes, a private military contractor (PMC) led by Eben Barlow, utilised three armed PC-7s (ex-Bophuthatswana Air Force aircraft) to provide close air support during its operations in Sierra Leone.

In June 2011, the Indian Air Force selected the Pilatus PC-7 MkII trainer as its basic trainer, an initial order of 75 was made. This order could be progressively increased to 181 trainers after technology transfer to India. The Indian cabinet approved the deal to buy the trainer. The contract was signed on 24 May 2012. As of 20 March 2014 the Indian MOD requested additional information for another 175 aircraft.

Role Light Trainer aircraft
Manufacturer Pilatus Aircraft
First flight 12 April 1966 (prototype)
18 August 1978 (production)
Introduction 1978
Status In service, in production
Primary users Indian Air Force
Mexican Air Force
South African Air Force
Royal Malaysian Air Force
Produced 1966-present
Number built >618
Developed from Pilatus P-3
Variants Pilatus PC-9


General characteristics

  • Crew: Two, student and instructor
  • Length: 9.78 m (32 ft 1 in)
  • Wingspan: 10.40 m (34 ft 1 in)
  • Height: 3.21 m (10 ft 6 in)
  • Wing area: 16.60 m² (179.0 ft²)
  • Empty weight: 1,330 kg (2,932 lb)
  • Max. takeoff weight: 2,700 kg (5,952 lb)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-25A turboprop, 410 kW (550 shp)

Performance

  • Never exceed speed: 500 km/h (270 knots, 310 mph)
  • Maximum speed: 412 km/h (222 knots, 256 mph) (max cruise at 6,100 m (20,000 ft))
  • Stall speed: 119 km/h (64 knots, 74 mph) flaps and gear down, power off
  • Range: 2,630 km (1,420 nmi, 1,634 mi) (cruise power, at 5,000 m (16,400 ft) - 20 min reserves)
  • Service ceiling: 10,060 m (33,000 ft)
  • Rate of climb: 10.9 m/s (2,150 ft/min)
  • Wing loading: 114.5 kg/m² (23.44 lb/ft²)

Armament

  • Hardpoints: 6 × hardpoints for bombs and rockets with a capacity of 1,040 kg (2,294 lb)

End notes