The Pilatus PC-7 Turbo Trainer is a low-wing tandem-seat training aircraft, manufactured by Pilatus Aircraft of Switzerland. The aircraft is capable of all basic training functions including aerobatics, instrument, tactical and night flying. It has been selected by more than twenty air forces as their ab initio trainer — since the aircraft's introduction in 1978 close to 500 have been sold, with the majority still in service.
Over one million hours have been flown by PC-7s worldwide.
The PC-7 is based on the earlier piston-powered Pilatus P-3. The first prototype (modified from the prototype P-3 by replacing its Lycoming O-435 engine with a Pratt & Whitney PT6A-20 turboprop) flew on 12 April 1966, but after a crash the PC-7 programme was shelved.
In 1973 the programme was restarted and another P-3 was obtained from the Swiss Air Force. After modification, this aircraft flew on 12 May 1975. Further extensive modifications followed later in the programme, including a new one-piece wing with integral fuel tanks, an altered tailfin and a bubble canopy.
The first production aircraft flew on 12 August 1978. Swiss civil certification followed on 5 December of the same year, with deliveries, to Burma and Bolivia starting immediately thereafter.
The PC-7 Mk II is a development of the PC-9's airframe and avionics, fitted with the PC-7's smaller turbine to lower operating and maintenance costs. It is used by the South African Air Force, with sixty examples having been manufactured. The aircraft were assembled in South Africa from kits supplied by Pilatus. The value of the contract was estimated to be USD 175 million in 1993. Due to political considerations, the aircraft were not fitted with the armament hardpoints. Four PC-7 Mk II aircraft are used by the air force of Brunei.
The aircraft is also used by private customers and is both FAA and FOCA civil certified in order to comply to the general aviation regulations in Europe and the USA.
PC-7 : two-seat basic trainer aircraft, powered by PT6A-25A engine rated at 410 kW (550 shp).
PC-7 Mk II is a development of the PC-9's airframe and avionics, retaining the PC-7's wing in order to mount external stores. Powered by PT6A-25C of 522 kW (700 shp) rather than more powerful PT6A-62 of PC-9. In many ways this aircraft is a hybrid PC-7 and PC-9, either a PC-7 'Heavy' or a PC-9 'Lite' depending on point of view. Developed for the SAAF, and known as the 'Astra'.
NCPC-7 : upgraded version of the standard PC-7 with fully IFR glass cockpit avionics, developed for the Swiss Air Force.
- United Arab Emirates (Abu Dhabi): 31 (delivered from 1982)
- Angola: 25 (delivered from 1982)
- Austria: 16 (delivered from 1983)
- Bolivia: 24 (delivered from 1979)
- Bophuthatswana: 2 (delivered from 1989, later transferred to South Africa and subsequently returned to Pilatus)
- Botswana: 7 (delivered from 1990)
- Brunei: Royal Brunei Air Force has 4 (PC-7 Mk 2)
- Chad: Chad Air Force has 2 (delivered from 1985)
- Chile: 10 (delivered from 1980)
- France: 5 (delivered 1991)
- Guatemala: 12 (delivered from 1980)
- Iran: 35 (delivered from 1983)
- Iraq: 52 (delivered from 1980)
- Malaysia: 46 (delivered from 1983)
- Mexico: 88 (delivered from 1979)
- Myanmar: 17 (delivered from 1979)
- Netherlands: 13 (delivered from 1989)
- South Africa: 60
- Suriname: 3 (delivered from 1986)
- Switzerland: 40 (delivered from 1979)
- Uruguay: 6 (delivered from 1992)
Specifications (PC-7 Turbo Trainer)
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 (179.0 ft²)
Empty weight: 1,330 kg (2,932 lb)
Max takeoff weight: 2,700 kg (5,952 lb)
Powerplant: 1× Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-25A turboprop, 410 kW (550 shp)
Never exceed speed: 500 km/h (270 knots, 310 mph)
Maximum speed: 412 km/h (222 knots, 256 mph) (max cruise at 6,100 m (20,000 ft))
Stall speed: 119 km/h (64 knots, 74 mph) flaps and gear down, power off
Range: 2,630 km (1,420 nmi, 1,634 mi) (cruise power, at 5,000 m (16,400 ft) - 20 min reserves)
Service ceiling: 10,060 m (33,000 ft)
Rate of climb: 10.9 m/s (2,150 ft/min)
Wing loading: 114.5 kg/m² (23.44 lb/ft²)
Hardpoints: 6 × hardpoints for bombs and rockets with a capacity of 1,040 kg (2,294 lb) capacity
In November 2009, a civilian passenger in the back seat of a South African Air Force Pilatus PC-7 MK II ejected from the aircraft while in flight. The civilian accidentally pulled the yellow and black ejection lever while trying to brace himself. The passenger is thought to be a friend of the pilot, Captain Gerhard Lourens of the Silver Falcons. Civilians are not usually allowed in the turboprop aircraft, and an air force spokesman confirmed that officials had launched an investigation into the accident. The passenger survived the incident.
The South African Airforce grounded their fleet of C7s after a crash on 15 January 2008. The Pilatus Astra PC-7 MK II went down shortly after takeoff at Bredasdorp in the Cape Province — South Africa. SAAF Lieutenant-Colonel Chris Meiring, 50, died shortly after the crash. The plane was flying to Langebaanweg air force base for maintenance but shortly after take-off the plane rolled and flew into the ground. The cause is believed to be a structural problem.