Pilatus PC-12 NGX
The Pilatus PC-12 NGX, introduced at NBAA-BACE in October. Photo: Barry Ambrose

Pilatus Aircraft

What It Is: Switzerland’s 80-year-old Pilatus Aircraft Ltd. manufactures single-engine turboprops and a light twinjet for the business, general aviation, utility, and military markets. 

How It Grew: Taking the name of the iconic Alpine mountain, Emil Georg Bührle—an arms manufacturer, art collector, and patron—established Pilatus Aircraft in December 1939. The goal: to service Swiss Air Force reconnaissance aircraft, platforms that required superior mountain and short-field-operations capabilities.

From a small maintenance facility, Pilatus branched into the design and production of a series of aircraft, including the P-2 and P-3 trainers, which served in the Swiss Air Force from 1946 to 1981 and from 1956 to 1983, respectively.

The company’s self-described “breakthrough” aircraft, the Pilatus Porter PC-6 STOL (available with turboprop or piston engine) set a world record for high-altitude landings (18,045 feet above sea level) in 1960, the year after it first flew. The PC-7, a turbocharged and upgraded version of the P-3 trainer used by militaries and other operators worldwide, was introduced in 1978. 

The PC-12 single-engine business and utility turboprop entered service in 1994 and, riding U.S. market acceptance, the company established Pilatus Business Aircraft in Broomfield, Colorado, in 1996. By 2005, more than 500 PC-12s were in operation, and the fleet exceeded one million flying hours. The PC-12NG, with an all-glass cockpit, entered service in 2008, and Pilatus delivered the 1,000th PC-12 in 2010.

Responding in 2014 to customer requests for a faster, longer-range version of that aircraft, Pilatus introduced the twin-engine PC-24 Super Versatile Jet, featuring a large cargo door and the ability to operate from the same unimproved fields as its turboprop sibling. Within two days, the first three years of production—some 84 aircraft—were sold out. Launch customer PlaneSense, the U.S. fractional-ownership program, took delivery of the first PC-24 in 2018. That same year, Pilatus opened a PC-12/PC-24 completion center at its Colorado facility. 

What It Offers: 

Aircraft. The PC-24 is a light STOL twinjet capable of operating on unimproved fields, the only civilian fixed-wing turbofan so designed. The PC-12 NGX, which Pilatus introduced in October, is a single-engine business and utility turboprop featuring a redesigned cabin, new avionics, and an updated version of Pratt & Whitney Canada’s PT6A engine. The PC-7 MkII, PC-9M, and PC-21 are single-engine turboprop advanced military trainers.

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MRO. In-service care is provided through authorized Pilatus centers. 


Founded: 1939

HQ: Stans, Switzerland

Number of aircraft delivered in 2018: 128

Revenues (2018): $1.098 billion

Employees: More than 2,000

CEO: Markus Bucher

Website: pilatus-aircraft.com