Pilatus PC-6 Porter
The Pilatus PC-6 Porter is a single-engined STOL utility aircraft designed by Pilatus Aircraft of Switzerland. First flown in 1959, the PC-6 continues in production at Pilatus Flugzeugwerke in Stans, Switzerland. It has been built in both piston engine- and turboprop-powered versions and was produced under licence for a time by Fairchild Hiller in the United States. After around 600 deliveries in six decades, Pilatus will produce the last one in early 2019.
On 4th May 1959, the first prototype, powered by a 254 kW (340 shp) piston engine, made its maiden flight. In early May 1961, the first Turbo Porter, powered by a Turbomeca Astazou II turboprop engine, performed its initial flight. In comparison to its earlier piston engine-powered incarnation, the Astazou II-equipped Turbo Porter had an increased gross capacity and top speed, as well as benefitting from the engine’s automatic handling functions. These benefits came at the expense of a greater initial purchase cost and higher fuel consumption. Both the piston and turbine-engine versions of the PC-6 became quickly known for their Short Takeoff and Landing (STOL) capabilities, requiring only a very short takeoff run before being ready for rotation prior to taking off.
The initial turbine-powered models of the PC-6 were equipped with the Astazou II powerplant, however complaints of the reliability of this engine were made. Another early turboprop powerplant that became available for the PC-6 was the Garrett Air Research TPE 331. Some operators such as Air America chose to retrofit their Astazou II-powered PC-6s with the TPE 331 engine in its place. In May 1996, the first PC-6 to be equipped with the Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A engine performed its maiden flight.
To offset rising labour and manufacturing costs in Switzerland, Pilatus distributed manufacturing work on the PC-6 to other countries; in 1993, Czech Republic-based Letov Kbely began manufacturing activity upon the type. In 2013, Pilatus formed a joint venture with Beijing Tian Xing Jian Yu Science Co., Ltd. to locally manufacture the PC-6 and the newer Pilatus PC-12 in Chongqing, China; initially this facility performed subassembly work on the fuselage, and later other elements such as the wings and moving surfaces, which were conveyed to Pilatus’ final assembly facility in Stans, Switzerland. Global production of the PC-6 shall be eventually transferred to the Chongqing facility. On 11th December 2014, the first Chinese-assembled PC-6 fuselage was completed. In 2014, the majority of PC-6s delivered that year were to Chinese customers. By April 2016, around 20 PC-6s were in operation in the Chinese market; the type has often been used to replace the Antonov An-2, being reportedly cheaper to operate.
The Porter was also manufactured under license by Fairchild Hiller in the United States. Roughly 100 of these licence-produced aircraft would be completed, being mainly purchased by civil operators within the US. A number of Fairchild Hiller-built PC-6s were also procured for military operations during the Vietnam War. It received the designation AU-23A Peacemaker for service with the U.S. Air Force. The Peacemaker was fitted with a side-firing 20mm XM-197 Gatling cannon, four wing pylons and a centre fuselage station for external ordnance. However, the AU-23A proved to be troublesome in service. All of them were returned to the continental U.S. and placed into storage after only a single year of operation. In 1979, a pair of UV-20s were assigned to the aviation detachment of the Berlin Brigade in Germany due to their suitability for operating within the heavily restricted airspace; they were fitted for carrying either cargo, up to eleven passengers, or three litters with four medical attendants.
After nearly 600 deliveries in six decades including about 90 Fairchild-Hiller built and 425 PT6-powered, but only 52 in the last ten years, Pilatus will close the orderbook from summer 2018 and will roll off the last one in early 2019 while parts production will continue for at least 20 years.
The Pilatus PC-6 Porter is a Short Takeoff and Landing (STOL) utility aircraft. The majority of aircraft are powered by a single Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A turboprop engine, which drives a fully reversible, constant-speed, three-bladed HC-B3TN-3D (or an alternative four-bladed HC-D4N-3P unit) Hartzell aluminium propeller via a reduction gearbox. Pilatus claims that it possesses unique STOL capabilities, capable of landing in places only otherwise accessible by rotorcraft. It is fully capable of being operated from unprepared rough airstrips, in remote areas, hot climates and at high altitudes in all-weather conditions. In particular, the undercarriage employed provides for high wing and propeller clearances, making the PC-6 less susceptible to damage than conventional nosewheel-type undercarriages. For further landing versatility, various types of landing gear may be optionally installed allowing it to operate from different types of terrain; options include floats for water landings and skis for landing on snow.
Early models of the PC-6 were equipped with a full instrument panel as standard, and were reportedly easy for unfamiliar pilots to intuit. Later-manufactured PC-6s are equipped with a Garmin G950 glass cockpit in place of analog instrumentation; the majority of earlier-produced PC-6s can also be retrofitted with a glass cockpit. In addition to its flight functionality, the G950 system acts as a remote maintenance unit and electronic flight bag all in one. Two large 10.4-inch liquid-crystal displays (LCDs) are present, functioning as the Primary Flight Display for all key flight information and the Multi-function Display for system/mission management respectively; fully independent secondary flight instrumentation is also provided to provide backup altitude, attitude, and airspeed information in the event of complete electrical failure. The cockpit has been designed for single pilot operations; additional flight controls for a co-pilot can be optionally fitted. Other optional features include an autopilot (capable of operating within all phases of flight), traffic collision avoidance system (TCAS), terrain awareness and warning system (TAWS), weather radar, satellite phone, LIDAR, forward-looking infrared (FLIR) and lightning detector; in addition, onboard electrical and avionics equipment are readily modifiable to conform with customer requirements.
The airframe is of a rugged and low-maintenance construction; featuring high levels of accessibility, interchangeability, and favourable manning levels. The wings, fuselage, and empennage are manufactured using conventional semi-monocoque construction techniques, the primary structure being composed of aluminium; the central structure retains critical strength despite the cutout areas for the sliding doors of the main cabin. Corrosion resistance is achieved via a combination of plating and a polyurethane-based enamel paint. The simple nature of the structure allows for ease of repair in the field. Features such as low-pressure tyres, twin-caliper disc brakes, and a highly energy-absorbent undercarriage enable the aircraft to be capable of operating from rough or otherwise challenging terrain.
For role flexibility, individual aircraft can be easily converted between various mission types, such as transport, paradrop, aerial photography, surveillance, air medical services and search and rescue duties.A maximum of ten passengers, or a 2,200 lb payload, may be carried within the aircraft’s main cabin area within the rear section of the fuselage; the standard passenger seats are designed to allow for rapid removal and may be stowed within an optional separate externally-accessed seat stowage compartment behind the main cabin. The main cabin area is furnished with soundproofing measures, ventilation, and heating as standard. A maximum of three fuel tanks can also be carried in the main cabin, accordingly reducing payload capacity, to increase the aircraft’s flight endurance. In addition to the large sliding doors at either side of the main cabin, separate hinged doors are present on either side of the cockpit; an optional pilot-controlled trapdoor, to accommodate supply drops or surveillance payloads, may also be installed in the center of the cabin floor without any design changes required. Additional equipment include a firefighting system, aerial application system, underwing tanks, sand filters, propeller de-icing system, mudguard, tailwheel debris guard, oxygen system, and additional power distribution system.
The PC-6 is noted for its Short Takeoff and Landing (STOL) performance on almost any type of terrain – it can take off within a distance of 640 feet (195 m) and land within a distance of 427 feet (130 m) while carrying a payload of 2,646 lbs (1,200 kg). Thanks to its STOL performance, the PC-6 holds the world record for highest landing by a fixed-wing aircraft, at 18,865 feet (5,750 m), on the Dhaulagiri glacier in Nepal.
Due to the type’s favourable STOL characteristics, described by Flying Magazine as being “one of the most helicopter-like airplanes in terms of takeoff performance”, Pilatus has deliberately marketed the PC-6 towards helicopter operators at times, feeling the type to be complimentary to their typical mode of operation. According to Pilatus, the PC-6 can provide very similar surveillance capabilities to a rotorcraft at a significantly lower cost to operate and procure.
During its early service, the PC-6 Porter was noted for its high level of comfort and usability against competing aircraft. The type has also proven to have a long service life; by 1993, roughly 440 of the 500 PC-6 Turbo Porters completed by that point were still in service.
During the 1960s and 1970s, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)-controlled airline Air America operated up to 23 PC-6s at a time. Many of these were operated in the South-East Asia region, including South Vietnam during the Vietnam War. The type was used for various missions including paradropping supplies to troops, passenger transport, psy ops, reconnaissance, prisoner conveyance, airborne radio relay, and other intelligence operations.
Since 1976, the Austrian Air Force has operated a fleet of 12 PC-6 Porters as the mainstay of their fixed-wing transport fleet; the type has been used in various support roles, including transport, Search and Rescue, firefighting, observation, target-towing and paradropping.
According to Flying Magazine, around 40 per cent of all PC-6s in use in Europe during the early 1990s were being used by skydivers.
The Pilatus PC-21 is a turboprop-powered advanced trainer with a stepped tandem cockpit. It is manufactured by Pilatus Aircraft of Switzerland.
In November 1997, Pilatus flew a modified PC-7 Mk.II in order to test improvements for a prospective next generation turboprop trainer. As a result of these tests, Pilatus elected to fund the development of a new training system in November 1998; development of the new trainer, designated as the PC-21, formally started in January 1999. The PC-21 would be developed and certified as a completely new training system, aimed at meeting future military customers’ specifications in terms of capability and life-cycle costs for the next three decades.
A key aim for the PC-21 was to allow jet aircraft pilots to perform the majority of their training using the type before converting to jet-powered types, allowing operators to make substantial savings. In order to achieve this aim, the new trainer was required to have an expanded performance envelope in terms of aerodynamics, cockpit equipment, flexibility, and ease of maintenance. In May 2002, Pilatus announced that it aimed for the PC-21 to capture 50% of the global trainer aircraft market between 2005 and 2030. From the start of the aircraft’s development, Pilatus aimed for the type to have a predictable cost profile over its full lifespan. To meet this goal, the firm chose to incorporate modern materials, an innovative design concept, and full-scale fatigue analysis. Additionally, accompanying the aircraft itself are integrated training systems to meet the pilot’s needs; the full package offered by Pilatus includes synthetic training devices, computer-based training, and classroom instruction. As a result of greater training effectiveness, pilots can graduate with fewer total training hours, reaching the frontline faster and at lower cost. In addition to pilots, various prospective aircrew, such as navigators, weapons officers, and electronic warfare operators, can be trained using the type’s embedded simulation/emulation system.
On 30th April 2002, the rollout of the first PC-21 prototype was performed at Pilatus’ factory in Stans, Switzerland; this aircraft conducted its first flight on 1st July of the same year. In May 2003, Pilatus management formally green-lit the program to proceed to full development. On 7th June 2004, a second PC-21 prototype, the construction of which had been delayed to incorporate improvements learnt from assembling the first, made its maiden flight. In December 2004, Switzerland’s Federal Office for Civil Aviation granted type certification for the PC-21; civil certification was attained despite it being a military aircraft as this permitted civil maintenance procedures to be used as well as allowing the aircraft to be supplied under private finance arrangements. Individual Swiss military certification for equipment such as ejection seats has been applied as necessary.
On 13th January 2005, the second of the two development aircraft crashed in Buochs, Switzerland while conducting an aerobatic training flight; the accident resulted in the death of the pilot as well as injuring another person on the ground. In response to the accident, the other PC-21 was grounded for several weeks until Swiss authorities had established that there was no sign of technical malfunction. In August 2006, it was announced that crash investigators had concluded that pilot error had been to blame for the accident. In late August 2005, the first pre-series production PC-21 performed its maiden flight.
The Pilatus PC-21 is an advanced single-engine trainer aircraft; it is often referred to by Pilatus as being the “Twenty-first Century Trainer”. The type can be applied for various training capacities, including basic flying training, advanced flight training, full mission management training, and embedded simulation/emulation. In order to perform these functions, the aircraft possesses a powerful, flexible, and cost-effective integrated training system; providing sufficient ease of use for inexperienced pilots while posing greater challenge to advanced pilots. According to Pilatus, upon product launch, the PC-21 possessed “superior aerodynamic performance when compared with any other turboprop trainer on the market”.
The aircraft features a tandem-seating arrangement (student in-front/instructor behind) in a bird strike-resistant glass canopy with allround vision. The cabin, which is pressurized, is equipped with an On-Board Oxygen Generation System (OBOGS), air conditioning, and Martin-Baker CH16C Zero-Zero ejection seats. The flight controls, which are fully balanced and harmonized, are optimized for ease of operation and overall effectiveness. An anti-g system is also present in order to minimize the effects of high g-forces experienced during tactical training and aerobatic maneuvers. Pilots are able to spend a greater amount of time concentrating on the aircraft’s external situation and upon mission data inputs due to an ergonomic design approach, ease-of-use controls, and clear visual/system data displays. In addition, a full autopilot and civil flight management system are also present.
The PC-21 is powered by a single Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-68B turboprop engine of 1,600 shaft horse power, which drives a five-bladed graphite scimitar propeller manufactured by Hartzell; it has been claimed by Pilatus that the PC-21 possesses speed and climb rates previously normally performed only by jet-powered aircraft. It is also fitted with a high-speed profile wing, rated for maneuvers up to 8g, complete with hydraulically-assisted ailerons and spoilers which enable the execution of fighter-like rates of roll and other maneuvers. In order to make the aircraft easy to fly at low speeds, crucial to the advanced trainer role, the PC-21 is furnished with a digital power management system and the rudder control system is equipped with an automatic yaw compensator/suppression system to compensate for airspeed and engine power changes.
A key feature of the PC-21 is the embedded simulation and training suite, which provides cross-platform cockpit emulation, weapons simulation, stores management system, simulated radar and electronic warfare, a tactical situation display, and data link functionality. Key to this is the Mission Support System (MSS), which comprises the Mission Planning System (MPS) and Mission Debriefing System (MBS); data can be loaded and unloaded from these, which is compatible with ground-based stations for pre-flight configuration or post-mission analysis. The integrated mission computer is of an open architecture, allowing for third-party modifications and upgrades to take place; software can also be customized to conform to customer preferences. Critical and non-critical software are also deliberately separated.
The cockpit of the PC-21 features a high level of systems integration and conforms to modern avionics standards. The systems of the forward and rear cockpits can be ‘de-coupled’ between the student and instructor; the instructor may exercise real-time manipulation of the student’s displays, sensor performance, and system modes such as to create synthetic air-to-air radar targets, artificial non-safety critical system failures, and controlled data degradation. The aircraft’s fully digital glass cockpit features three large colour liquid crystal displays (LCD), one performing as the primary flight display (PFD) and two multi-function displays (MFDs) for system/mission management, in addition to CMC Electronics-provided head-up displays (HUD) for both the pilot and instructor. The trim gauge is the only analogue dial in the cockpit. For control simplicity, a Hands on Throttle and Stick (HOTAS) control philosophy has been followed. Both the display and control systems present also resemble their counterparts used upon modern front-line combat aircraft for greater realism during training; and can be further customized in order to be more representative of specific combat aircraft. The multi-sensor navigation system is capable of operating under a military tactical mode as well as a civil navigation mode.
In the Armament Program 2006, the Swiss Parliament approved an initial purchase of the PC-21 for the Swiss Air Force. By April 2008, four PC-21 have been accepted by the Swiss Air Force following the passing of acceptance trials, and flight operations were set to start in July that year. In December 2010, the Swiss Air Force placed an order for another two aircraft.
In November 2006, the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) awarded a service contract to Lockheed Martin Simulation, Training and Support (LMSTS) to deliver 19 PC-21 aircraft, to support the RSAF’s Basic Wings training course at RAAF Base Pearce in Australia under a public–private partnership (PPP) arrangement, replacing the SIAI-Marchetti S.211. Singapore was the first export customer for the PC-21. On 21st January 2008, the first RSAF PC-21 completed its flight test prior to being accepted into service. On 13th July 2008, the type began to provide the RSAF with basic flying training, by which point a further six aircraft had been delivered.
During the 2009 Dubai Airshow, the United Arab Emirates announced an order of 25 PC-21 trainers for the United Arab Emirates Air Force (UAEAF) to replace its aging fleet of Pilatus PC-7s. On 22nd November 2010, the UAEAF’s first PC-21 performed its maiden flight. In July 2012, it was announced that the Qatar Air Force had placed an order for a complete pilot training system from Pilatus centering upon the PC-21. The package included ground-based training devices, logistical support and maintenance in addition to 24 PC-21 aircraft. On 1st October 2014, the Qatar Air Force formally received its first batch of PC-21 trainers.
On 23rd May 2012, Saudi Arabia signed a £1.6 billion ($2.5 billion) contract for a comprehensive next-generation military pilot training system, comprising 22 BAE Systems Hawk advanced jet trainers in addition to 55 PC-21 trainers. In early June 2014, Pilatus commenced delivery of the first six PC-21s to Saudi Arabia; by the end of 2015, this had risen to 46 PC-21s delivered.
The PC-21 was one of the submissions for the Royal Australian Air Force’s project AIR 5428, which sought a replacement of its Pilatus PC-9s; in September 2015, it was announced that the consortium comprising Lockheed Martin, Pilatus and Hawker Pacific (“Team 21”), had won the bid to provide 49 PC-21s to the Australian Defence Force. Moreover, the PC-21 has been evaluated by the Spanish Air Force (along with the Beechcraft T-6 Texan II and the PZL-130 Orlik III), as a possible substitute for its ENAER T-35 Pillan and CASA C-101 Aviojet trainer aircraft.
August 2015, Pilatus received a contract to deliver nine PC-9Ms to the Royal Jordanian Air Force, but in April 2016 changed the order to eight PC-21s. Deliveries were due to start in January 2017 under the original deal.
In January 2017, Pilatus received a contract for 17 PC-21s by the French Department of Defense as a new training aircraft. On 31st August 2018, France’s defence procurement agency Direction générale de l’armement announced the arrival of the first two PC-21s. The delivery of the remaining aircraft is scheduled to be completed in 2019.
Pilatus PC-6 Porter and Pilatus PC-21 1/72nd scale models available from Flying Tigers.
Check out the Herpa 1/72nd scale models which have arrived at Flying Tigers this week and are available to order.Please click on the images below to go straight to the model of your choice or CLICK HERE to see all the Herpa 1/72nd scale models available.
Hobbymaster 1/72nd scale and 1/48th scale New Model Arrivals next month at Flying Tigers !
The following Hobbymaster new models are arriving at Flying Tigers next month. As usual the majority of the model allocation has already sold as pre-ordered models and will be dispatched ASAP after arrival. There are limited quantities still available to buy, so if you need any of these to add to your collection please be quick to place your order. Please Click on the photo of your choice to go straight to the model page of your choice or CLICK HERE to see all Hobbymaster Future Releases.
Sorry HA2819 AND HL1405 have already SOLD OUT at Pre-Order stage at Flying Tigers.
Updated Herpa Military Photo Gallery
Please check out all the latest Herpa Military Dieccast models available from Flying Tigers. Please click on the images below to go straight to the model of your choice or CLICK HERE to see all 1/72nd scale Herpa models or CLICK HERE to see all Herpa 1/200th scale Military models.
STOP PRESS !
The following model has just been announced by InFlight 200 and is now available to pre-order from Flying Tigers. Please click on the image below to go straight to the model page to order. Sure to be a SELL OUT… get your order in quick.
That’s all for this week.
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