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12th of August 1978

It was on this day in aviation history that the first production Pilatus PC-7 made its first flight.

In the 1960s development of a training aircraft started with a prototype Pilatus P-3 being modified to what become the Pilatus PC-7 engine configuration by replacing the Lycoming O-435 piston engine with a P&W PT6-A20 engine. The PT6 powered Pilatus P-3 made its first flight in April 1966. However, a combination of a serious accident with the aircraft and a lack of market interest made Pilatus decide to stop the development.


In 1973 the project was restarted.

Another P-3 was purchased (from the Swiss Air Force) after being fitted with a P&W PT6 engine this second prototype made its first flight in May 1975. After further extensive modifications the P-3, for all intents and purpose, now a PC-7 was used to complete the flight test program which was concluded in late 1977. The modifications (amongst others) consisted of:

  • One-piece wing

  • Integral fuel tanks

  • Redesigned tail fin

  • Bubble canopy

With the test program ended all efforts went into the production of the PC-7, which led to the first flight on this date in 1978 of the first production aircraft. To this date over 600 PC-7’s have been built. Since that first flight, the PC-7 has been in three versions

PC-7 The basic two-seat trainer powered by a 550 shp P&W PT6A-25A engine

PC-7 Mk II A hybrid aircraft, combining the PC-9’s airframe and avionics with the PC-7 wing (with mounts for external stores) and powered by a P&W PT6A25C engine (700 shp). The aircraft was developed for the South African Air Force and is known as the “Astra”.

NCPC-7 Is a standard PC-7 upgraded with full IFR Glass Cockpit and related avionics. NCPC0-7 was used by the Swiss Air Force to differentiate between upgraded aircraft (with the new avionics) and standard aircraft. Once all aircraft were upgraded all aircraft were designated PC-7 again, losing the “NC” pre-fix.

PC-7 Mk II

Specifications of the PC-7

  • 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 (178.7 sq ft)

  • Aspect ratio: 6.5:1

  • Empty weight: 1,330 kg (2,932 lb)

  • Max takeoff weight: 2,700 kg (5,952 lb)

  • Fuel capacity: 474 L (104 imp gal; 125 US gal) usable internal fuel

  • Powerplant: 1 × Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-25A turboprop, 410 kW (550 shp) (derated from 480 kW (650 shp))

  • Propellers: 3-bladed Hartzell HC-B3TN-2/T10173C-8 constant-speed propeller, 2.36 m (7 ft 9 in) diameter

  • Maximum speed: 412 km/h (256 mph, 222 kn) (max cruise at 6,100 m (20,000 ft))

  • Cruise speed: 171 km/h (106 mph, 92 kn) (econ. cruise at 6,100 m (20,000 ft))

  • Stall speed: 119 km/h (74 mph, 64 kn) (flaps and gear down, power off)

  • Vmo : 270 knots (500 km/h - 310 mph,

  • Range: 2,630 km (1,630 mi, 1,420 nmi) (cruise power, at 5,000 m (16,000 ft) - 20 min reserves)

  • Endurance: 3 hr 45 min

  • Service ceiling: 10,000 m (33,000 ft)

  • Rate of climb: 10.9 m/s (2,150 ft/min

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

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