Pilatus PC-6 Porter Retiring in 2019
Focus Directed to New PC-24 Super Versatile Jet
Clarence “Kelly” Johnson, the famous Lockheed aeronautical engineer, is attributed to have said “all great airplanes are also beautiful.” Pilatus Aircraft, Ltd. the Stans, Switzerland based aircraft manufacturer, obviously flunked the Johnson test in 1959, but it created a special aircraft. Its PC-6 Porter is recognized as a legendary plane. Pilatus announced that it will stop selling the PC-6 while continuing to support the aerial SUV operators.
The 600 Porters (100 manufactured by Fairchild Hiller) operate “anywhere, anytime” [Sahara deserts, New Guinea jungles, Dhaulagiri glacier in Nepal] at about 19,000 feet, on snow skis/on floats, SAR in adverse weather conditions, EMS in difficult terrain, cargo flights to locations only the Porter could reach.
The evaluators at Flying Magazine called the Porter “one of the most helicopter-like airplanes in terms of takeoff performance.” The company marketed it as being very similar surveillance capabilities to a helicopter with lower capital and operating costs. In a utility aircraft, received high marks from consumers about its high level of comfort and its ability to stow all manner of cargo. Reliability is a crucial measurement of an aircraft’s value for these missions— a 1993 report indicated that roughly 440 of the 500 PC-6 Turbo Porters were flying then. Pilatus designed this plane to be maintained readily by the operators. Another design benefit is that the Porter was easily changed from one configuration to another.
The Porter provided lift for both civilian and military parachute operations. The CIA operated the Porter in some of its covert flights in Viet Nam. Its aerial photography, survey and laser photogrammetric and scanning operations were also practical advantages for many users.
The PC-6’s range of operations includes both low-level flight in narrow valleys to a service ceiling of 25,000 ft. Its electrical systems provide a separate source of power so that a camera and/or a search or scanning sensor head can be operated without any in-flight effects on the avionics and instrument systems.
Pilatus has decided that the Porter’s age of the PC-6 (60 years), certification considerations and a limitation on future enhancements, it is no longer offering this SUV of the skies. Oscar J. Schwenk, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Pilatus explained that the company’s resources and focus were being directed to the new PC-24 Super Versatile Jet. Its production is currently gearing up in Stans, requiring the company’s full attention.
Kelly Johnson’s correlation of beauty and great planes would approve of the PC-24.
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