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Pilatus PC-7

Basic Trainer / Light Attack Aircraft

Switzerland | 1978

"Over 600 of the Swiss-originated Pilatus PC-7 basic trainers have been produced since 1966."

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 01/28/2022 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site; No A.I. was used in the generation of this content.
Pilatus Aircraft Ltd was established in December of 1939, this at the start of World War 2 (1939-1945), in neutral Switzerland. The company was originally set up to provide logistical and maintenance support for the Swiss Air Force amidst the fighting in Europe. From these modest beginnings, the company has survived - and blossomed - to become one of the primary suppliers of first-rate basic trainer aircraft for both military and civilian sectors. The PC-7, debuting in 1978, is one of the success stories for the company with over 600 examples sold and operators spanning the globe, from Angola and Austria to the United Arab Emirates and Uruguay.

A first-flight was had by a prototype, the aircraft based largely on the earlier P-3 design of 1956, on April 12th, 1966. Series introduction officially occurred on August 18th, 1978. A crash during development led to the program being suspended until 1973, hence the large gap between prototype and series start.

The PC-7 utilizes a proven, if entirely conventional, arrangement. The fuselage is smoothly contoured with slab sides, the engine fitted to a forward compartment and the tail section tapering aft. The crew of two sit in tandem over midships. The canopy is a long-running piece with light framing offering the best possible views of the action ahead, and surrounding, the aircraft. Flight controls are redundant across both cockpit seats so the student and instructor can share control of the aircraft as necessary. The wing mainplanes are fitted low along the fuselage sides. The tail unit incorporates a single rudder and low-set horizontal stabilizers. The undercarriage if of a wheeled tricycle arrangement and fully-retractable into the design.

Dimensions include a length of 32 feet, a wingspan of 34 feet and a height of 10.5 feet. Empty weight is 3,000lb against an MTOW of 6,000lb. Power is from a Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-25 series turboprop engine developing 550 horsepower (model dependent).

Performance includes a maximum speed of 255 miles per hour with a range out to 1,635 miles and a service ceiling nearing 33,000 feet. Rate-of-climb is 2,150 feet-per-minute.

Beyond their given basic training role, the PC-7 has also been pressed into service as a light strike / counter-insurgency platform (six hardpoints are featured and collectively rated for 2,295lb of ordnance). This was the case with Iraqi Air Force PC-7s used against neighboring Iran in the Iran-Iraq War of the 1980s. Other operators, such as Chad, Guatemala and Mexico, have also outfitted these small airplanes with munitions - typically machine gun pods, rocket pods and conventional drop ("dumb") bombs - showcasing the versatility of these flying machines. Beyond the training and strike roles, the PC-7 is also a durable aerobatics, high-performance platform.

The PC-7 designation marks the original two-seat trainers carrying the Pratt & Whitney PT6A-25A series engine of 500 horsepower. The PC-7 Mk II then emerged, to fulfill a South African Air Force (SAAF) requirement, as an improved form relying on the PC-9 product's framework and avionics fit coupled to the PC-7's original wing mainplanes (which support underwing ordnance). This model is powered by the Pratt & Whitney PT6A-25C engine of 700 horsepower output which is billed as a economically-friendly engine when compared to other turboprop trainers. The engine drives a four-bladed aluminum Hartzell propeller unit.

The NCPC-7 designation is used for Swiss Air Force aircraft based on a modernized PC-7 model with all-glass cockpit and all-modern avionics.

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June 2011 - The Indian Air Force has committed to a 75-strong order for PC-7 Mk II aircraft.

March 2014 - Indian Air Force authorities have shown interest in acquiring a further batch of 175 PC-7 Mk II platforms.

Power & Performance
Those special qualities that separate one aircraft design from another. Performance specifications presented assume optimal operating conditions for the Pilatus PC-7 Basic Trainer / Light Attack Aircraft.
1 x Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-25A turboprop engine developing 550 horsepower.
258 mph
415 kph | 224 kts
Max Speed
32,972 ft
10,050 m | 6 miles
Service Ceiling
1,634 miles
2,630 km | 1,420 nm
Operational Range
2,150 ft/min
655 m/min
City-to-City Ranges
Operational range when compared to distances between major cities (in KM).
The nose-to-tail, wingtip-to-wingtip physical qualities of the Pilatus PC-7 Basic Trainer / Light Attack Aircraft.
32.1 ft
9.78 m
O/A Length
34.1 ft
(10.40 m)
O/A Width
10.5 ft
(3.20 m)
O/A Height
2,932 lb
(1,330 kg)
Empty Weight
5,952 lb
(2,700 kg)
Design Balance
The three qualities reflected below are altitude, speed, and range. The more full the box, the more balanced the design.
Available supported armament and special-mission equipment featured in the design of the Pilatus PC-7 Basic Trainer / Light Attack Aircraft .
Typically none but six hardpoints can carry up to 2,300lb of stores for the light strike role.
Notable series variants as part of the Pilatus PC-7 family line.
PC-7 - Base Series Designation
PC-7 Mk II
Global customers who have evaluated and/or operated the Pilatus PC-7. Nations are displayed by flag, each linked to their respective national aircraft listing.

Total Production: 618 Units

Contractor(s): Pilatus Aircraft - Switzerland
National flag of Angola National flag of Austria National flag of Bolivia National flag of Chad National flag of Chile National flag of France National flag of India National flag of Iraq National flag of Iran National flag of Malaysia National flag of Mexico National flag of Myanmar National flag of the Netherlands National flag of Nigeria National flag of South Africa National flag of Switzerland National flag of the United Arab Emirates National flag of Uruguay

[ Angola; Austria; Bolivia; Bophuthatswana; Botswana; Brunei; Chad; Chile; France; Guatemala; India; Iran; Iraq; Malaysia; Mexico; Myanmar; Netherlands; Nigeria; South Africa; Suriname; Switzerland; United Arab Emirates; Uruguay ]
Relative Max Speed
Hi: 300mph
Lo: 150mph
Aircraft Max Listed Speed (258mph).

Graph Average of 225 MPH.
Era Crossover
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Showcasing Aircraft Era Crossover (if any)
Max Alt Visualization
Small airplane graphic
Production Comparison
Entry compared against Ilyushin IL-2 (military) and Cessna 172 (civilian) total production.
MACH Regime (Sonic)
RANGES (MPH) Subsonic: <614mph | Transonic: 614-921 | Supersonic: 921-3836 | Hypersonic: 3836-7673 | Hi-Hypersonic: 7673-19180 | Reentry: >19030
Aviation Timeline
1 / 1
Image of the Pilatus PC-7
Official image from Pilatus marketing material.

Mission Roles
Some designs are single-minded in their approach while others offer a more versatile solution to airborne requirements.
Some designs stand the test of time while others are doomed to never advance beyond the drawing board; let history be their judge.
Developments of similar form-and-function, or related, to the Pilatus PC-7 Basic Trainer / Light Attack Aircraft.
Going Further...
The Pilatus PC-7 Basic Trainer / Light Attack Aircraft appears in the following collections:
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