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Pilatus PC-12 Sentinel of the U.S. Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement
Role Passenger and cargo aircraft
National origin Switzerland
Manufacturer Pilatus Aircraft
First flight May 31, 1991
Introduced 1994
Status In production
Primary users Civil aviation
United States Air Force
Number built 860+ (by 24 April, 2009)[1]
Unit cost About US$3.48 million base price. US$4.0 million PC-12NG executive configuration[citation needed]

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.


Design and development

Pilatus announced the development of the PC-12 at the annual convention of the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) in October 1989.[2] The first flight of the first of two prototypes took place on May 31, 1991. Certification of the type was originally planned for mid-1991 but a redesign of the wings (increase of wing span and addition of winglets to ensure performance guarantees were met) delayed this. Swiss certification finally took place on March 30, 1994, and U.S. Federal Aviation Administration approval followed on July 15, 1994.

As with many other Pilatus aircraft, the PC-12 is powered by a single Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6 turboprop engine (the PT6A-67B). It is certified for single-pilot IFR operations, though operators may choose to utilize a second flight crew member. Pilatus offers the PC-12 in a standard nine-seat airliner form, in a four-passenger seat/freight Combi version, and as a six-seat corporate transport with an option for a seven-seat by adding a three-seat bench in place of seats five and six.[3] A pure freighter model is under consideration.

Pilatus PC-12

The PC-12M (Multipurpose) is based on the PC-12, but equipped with a more powerful electrical generation system that enables addition of additional power-consuming equipment. This enables the PC-12M to perform missions such as flight inspection, air ambulance, parachutist dropping, aerial photography, and aerial surveillance. This version is marketed in the United States as the PC-12 Spectre paramilitary special missions platform.

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.

Pilatus unveiled the PC-12NG (Next Generation) at the 2007 NBAA meeting in Atlanta.[citation needed] The NG features a more powerful Pratt & Whitney PT6-67P engine with better climb performance and an increase in maximum cruise speed to 280kts TAS. The NG also features a Honeywell APEX glass cockpit. 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.

Operational history

Pilatus PC-12 in landing configuration
Pilatus PC-12 at Centennial Airport in Colorado
Pilatus PC-12 Instruments and Sub-Panel

Most PC-12s are used as corporate transports, but recent regulatory changes in Australia, Brazil, Canada, and the United States have cleared single engine turboprops such as the PC-12 for regional passenger transport operations in those countries. This opens a new market for the PC-12 as a regional airliner that would replace older twin piston-engined aircraft.

Planesense, a New Hampshire-based fractional ownership company, is the largest fractional operator of PC-12s in the world, operating 34 PC-12s.[4]

In 1994 the Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia was the launch customer of the PC-12.

Accidents and incidents

On March 22, 2009, a PC-12/45 with the aircraft registration number N128CM, owned by the Eagle Cap Leasing of Enterprise, Oregon, crashed on approach to the Bert Mooney Airport in Butte, Montana.[5] The aircraft had departed from Oroville, California, and diverted from the original destination of Bozeman, Montana for unknown reasons. All 14 people on board were killed: one pilot and 13 passengers, seven of whom were young children.[6] Reports indicate the flight was taking the passengers to a skiing trip in Bozeman.[7]

On June 12, 2009, a PC-12 crash landed at Sikorsky Memorial Airport in Stratford, Connecticut. No one was injured.[8]

On July 5, 2009, a Pilatus PC-12 crashed in Rockbridge County, Va., after the pilot reported an exterior panel came off of the aircraft. The pilot, Daniel Dorsch, owner of Papa John's Pizza chain in Florida, Fun Bike Center of Lakeland, FL and former CEO of Checkers Drive-In Restaurants (1999–2003), his wife Cynthia Dorsch and at least two other passengers were killed.[9]

On July 24, 2009 the NTSB issued its preliminary report on the Rockbridge County, Va. accident. On July 25, 2009, the Roanoke Times published an analysis of the NTSB report subtitled Without being conclusive, it [the NTSB report] suggests failure of navigational instruments as the main cause. This article argues that the accident was caused not by the loss of a structural panel from the aircraft, as had been suggested by early accounts, but from the failure of the pilot's primary instrument panel. This failure, the author speculates, resulted in the pilot's becoming spatially disoriented, which consequently caused him to lose control of the aircraft.[10]

On October 16, 2009, a Pilatus PC-12 crashed just outside the city of Weert, the Netherlands. The aircraft crashed into a field shortly after taking off from Budel's Kempen Airport. Eyewitnesses saw smoke coming from the PC-12. Two people aboard were killed.[11]


Main production variant certified in 1994 has a Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-67B engine.
Certified in 1996 has a Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-67B engine, maximum takeoff weight increased to 4,500 kg (9,921 lb).
Certified in 2005 has a Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-67B engine, maximum takeoff weight increased to 4,740 kg (10,450 lb).
Variant certified in 2008 has a Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-67P engine.
PC-12M Spectre
Paramilitary special missions platform marketed in the United States, originally called "Eagle".
PC-12 NG
Updated version of PC-12 (NextGeneration)
United States designation for the PC-12.


Pilatus PC-12 taking off from short, unimproved airfield
Starboard wing with winglet, weather radar, and de-icing boot
Pilatus PC-12 NG


More than 780 PC-12s have been sold as of June 2008; most are used in the civil market.

Present airline operators:

Former airline operators:



 United States


  • Ornge - is operating 4 PC-12 NG for aeromedical transport[14]


 South Africa
 United States

Specifications (PC-12)

RCMP PC-12, Winnipeg c. 2007
Weather radar on the wing of Pilatus PC-12 NG

General characteristics

  • Crew: one or two pilots
  • Capacity: 9 passengers standard, 6-8 executive
  • Payload: 1,500 kg (3,502 lb)
  • Length: 14.40 m (47 ft 3 in)
  • Wingspan: 16.23 m (53 ft 3 in)
  • Height: 4.26 m (14 ft 0 in)
  • Wing area: 25.81 m² (277.8 ft²)
  • Empty weight: 2,761 kg (5,867 lb)
  • Loaded weight: 4,700 kg (10,450 lb)
  • Max takeoff weight: 4,740 kg (10,450 lb)
  • Powerplant:Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-67B turboprop, 895 kW (1,200 shp)
  • Maximum landing: 4,700 kg (10,450 lb)
  • Maximum payload full fuel: 539 kg (1,189 lb)
  • Tail wingspan: 5.20 m (17 ft 1 in)
  • Propeller: Hartzell HC - E4A - 3D/E10477K – 4 blade aluminum
  • Propeller diameter: 2.67 m (8 ft 9 in)
  • Propeller RPM: 1,700 rpm constant speed


  • Cruise speed: 500 km/h (312.5 mph/270 KTAS/280 KTAS @ 20000 ft (PC-12NG))
  • Stall speed: 120 km/h (74.8 mph/ 65 KCAS/66 KCAS (PC-12NG))
  • Service ceiling: 9,150 m (30,000 ft)
  • Rate of climb: 512 m/min at sea level (1,680 ft/min)
  • Wing loading: 174.3 kg/m² (35.7 lb/ft²)
  • Power/mass: 3.7 kg/shp (8.2 lb/shp)
  • Range 0 passenger: 4,149 km (2,593 mi) (2,239 nm)
  • Range 9 passenger: 2,804 km (1,753 mi) (1,513 nm)
  • Takeoff distance over 15 m (50 ft) obstacle: 701 m (2,300 ft)
  • Takeoff distance ground roll: 450 m (1,475 ft)
  • Landing distance over 15 m (50 ft) obstacle: 558 m (1,830 ft)
  • Landing distance ground roll: 228 m (945 ft)

Honeywell Primus APEX (PC-12NG)

See also

Comparable aircraft


  • Endres, Günter. The Illustrated Directory of Modern Commercial Aircraft. St. Paul, Minnesota: MBI Publishing, 2001. ISBN 0-7603-1125-0.
  • The information on the U-28A was obtained from an official United States Air Force fact sheet

External links


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