Military Wiki
A Pilatus PC-7 of Swissair at Basle Airport in 1983
Role Light Trainer aircraft
Manufacturer Pilatus Aircraft
First flight 12 April 1966 (prototype)
18 August 1978 (production)
Introduction 1978
Status In service, in production
Primary users Mexican Air Force
South African Air Force
Swiss Air Force
Produced 1966-present
Number built 520
Developed from Pilatus P-3
Variants Pilatus PC-9

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 20 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.[1]

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.[2]

The aircraft is also used by private customers and is both FAA and FOCA civil certified to comply to the general aviation regulations in Europe and the USA.

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 175 million US$ 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.

Operational history

PC-7s were used by the Iraqi Air Force for close air support in the Iran-Iraq war. They were also used to deliver chemical weapons against Iranian troops.[3]

The Chadian Air Force has used its small fleet of PC-7s to bomb rebel positions both in their own territory and in neighboring Sudan.[4]

PC-7s were employed by the Guatemalan Air Force in air strikes and for close air support during the Guatemalan civil war, starting in 1982 until the end of the conflict in 1996. The PC-7s deployed from the airfield in La Aurora armed with gunpods and light rocket launchers.[5]

In 1994, Mexican Air Force armed PC-7s were used to attack Zapatista Army of National Liberation during the Chiapas conflict in Mexico. This action was considered illegal by the Swiss government because the airplanes were sold for training purposes only, and as result, Switzerland issued a ban to sell more units to Mexico.[6]

In the mid to late 1990s, Executive Outcomes, a private military contractor (PMC) led by Eben Barlow, utilised three armed PC-7s (ex-Bophuthatswana Air Force aircraft) to provide close air support during its operations in Sierra Leone.[7]

In June 2011, the Indian Air Force selected the Pilatus PC-7 MkII trainer as its basic trainer, an initial order of 75 was made.[8] This order could be progressively increased to 181 trainers after technology transfer to India. The Indian cabinet approved the deal to buy the trainer.[9] The contract was signed on 24 May 2012.[10] In September 2012, the Indian Defence Ministry rejected HAL’s proposal to build a basic trainer. As many as 181 Pilatus trainers may be purchased.[11]


  • PC-7 : two-seat basic trainer aircraft, powered by PT6A-25A engine rated at 410 kW (550 shp).[12]
  • PC-7 Mk II is a development of the PC-9's airframe and avionics, retaining the PC-7's wing to mount external stores. Powered by PT6A-25C of 522 kW (700 shp) rather than more powerful PT6A-62 of PC-9.[13] Developed for the SAAF, and known as the "Astra"; the aircraft is a hybrid PC-7 and PC-9, either a PC-7 "Heavy" or a PC-9 "Lite" depending on point of configuration.[14]
  • NCPC-7 : upgraded version of the standard PC-7 with fully IFR glass cockpit avionics, developed for the Swiss Air Force.


Military operators

Pilatus PC-7 of the Royal Netherlands Air Force

Pilatus NCPC-7 of the Swiss Air Force

An incomplete list of the users of the PC-7:[15]

  • Botswana Defence Force Air Wing: seven (delivered from 1990) to be replaced by five PC-7 Mk 2s in 2013.[16] 5 PC-7 Mk II aircraft formally accepted into service on February 8, 2013, removing 6 PC-7s from service.[17]
  • Indian Air Force: 14 PC-7 Mk II delivered,[18] 65 more on order; to be delivered at the rate of about two aircraft every month.[10][19][20] Another 37 of these planes has been ordered under follow-on contract that will take the total planes with IAF to 112.[21]
  • Iran Air Force: 35 (delivered from 1983)
 South Africa
 United Arab Emirates

Former military operators

Flag of Bophuthatswana.png Bophuthatswana
Three (delivered from 1989, later transferred to South Africa and subsequently served in the Sierra Leone civil war and Chad)
Five (delivered 1991)
  • Iraq Air Force: 52 (delivered from 1980)

Former civil operators

  • Swissair

Accident and incidents

A Silver Falcons PC-7 Mk II, similar to the one that was in the accident.

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 aircraft equipped with ejector seats. An air force spokesman confirmed that officials had launched an investigation into the accident. The passenger survived the incident.[24][needs update]

The South African Air Force (SAAF) grounded their fleet of PC-7 MkIIs after a crash on 15 January 2008. The aircraft went down shortly after takeoff from Overberg Air Force Base in the Western Cape Province. SAAF Lieutenant-Colonel Chris Meiring, 58, died shortly after the crash. The aircraft was flying to Langebaanweg Air Force Base for maintenance but shortly after take-off it rolled and flew into the ground. The cause is believed to be a structural problem.

In March 2010, a pilot was killed when his Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) aircraft exploded and caught fire in midair during a solo airshow. This is the fifth accident involving Royal Malaysian Air Force PC-7 aircraft.[25]

In June 2010, two Mexican pilots were killed when their Air Force PC-7 crashed after taking off from Pie de la Cuesta, a district in the resort city of Acapulco, Mexico. The PC-7 crashed into the sea near Acapulco.[26][27]

On 20 October 2011, two PC-7s of the Botswana Defence Force were involved in a mid-air collision over Letlhakeng 100 km west of Gaborone. Two of the four aircrew involved were killed in the incident.[28] On 12 September 2017 a pilot was killed when his Swiss Air Force PC-7 crashed at the Schreckhorn in Canton Bern on its way from Payerne AFB to Locarno AFB.[29]

Specifications (PC-7 Turbo Trainer)

Data from [30]

General characteristics

  • 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) [31]


  • 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)[32]

See also



  1. Air International September 1979, p. 112.
  2. Air International September 1979, p. 114.
  3. "Iraqui Air Force." Retrieved: 9 November 2012.
  4. Wezeman, Pieter D. "Arms flows to the conflict in Chad.", August 2009. Retrieved: 9 November 2012.
  5. Cooper, Tom. "Guatemala since 1954". Retrieved 31 January 2013. 
  6. Aranda, Jesús. "Ahora que la FAM pretende renovar su flota no puede adquirir aviones Pilatus C-9" (in Spanish). La Jornada. 13 November 2009. Retrieved: 9 November 2012.
  7. Barlow, Eben. "Executive Outcomes: Against all Odds." Retrieved: 9 November 2012.
  8. Menon, Jay. "India Selects Pilatus Basic Trainer.", 16 June 2011. Retrieved: 19 June 2011.
  9. "India closes in on Pilatus acquisition." Janes, 4 May 2012.
  10. 10.0 10.1 "India signs 500 M Swiss francs contract for Pilatus PC-7 MKII." Retrieved: 9 November 2012.
  11. Shukla, Ajai. "MoD rejects HAL’s proposal to build basic trainer." Bangalore Business Standard, 18 December 2012. Retrieved: 20 December 2012.
  12. Air International September 1979, p. 115.
  13. Taylor 1999, pp. 96–97.
  14. "Pilatus PC-7." Retrieved: 9 November 2012.
  15. "Pilatus PC-7 list of users." Retrieved: 9 November 2012.
  16. "Botswana Defence selects PC-7 MkII turboprop trainer aircraft worth SF 40 Mil." Retrieved: 9 November 2012.
  17. Botswana introduces new PC-7 MkII trainers -, February 11, 2013
  18. "Indian Air Force Pilatus PC-7 MkII Basic Flight Training started Monday". 16 July 2013. Retrieved 16 July 2013. 
  19. "IAF's first Swiss Pilatus trainer aircraft arrives in India". 30 May 2013. Retrieved 1 June 2013. 
  20. "AFA Dundigal gets Swiss jet trainer Pilatus PC-7 Mk-II". 3 February 2013. Retrieved 3 February 2013. 
  21. "IAF to order 37 more Pilatus trainers worth Rs 1,250 cr". Business Standard. 2013-02-04. Retrieved 2013-05-07. 
  22. Jackson 2003, p. 454.
  23. "Pilatus NCPC-7." Swiss Air Force. Retrieved: 9 November 2012.
  24. Maclean, Sean. "Oops! Civilian in joyride accidentally grabs ejection lever but lands safely." Daily Mail, 2 November 2009. Retrieved: 9 November 2012.
  25. "Nasional Karnival konvokesyen UUM bertukar tragedi.", 26 March 2010. Retrieved: 9 November 2012.
  26. "Cae avión militar en Acapulco" (in Spanish). El Debate. Retrieved: 6 May 2013.
  27. "Two Die in Military Plane Crash in Mexico." Latin American Herald Tribune. Retrieved: 6 May 2013.
  28. "Two BDF planes collide, killing two pilots." Mmegi online. Retrieved: 9 November 2012.
  29. PC-7 crash on Schreckhorn
  30. Lambert 1993, pp. 359–360.
  31. Normal rating of PT6A-25A 485 kW (650 shp) - flat rated to 410 kW (550 shp) in PC-7 installation
  32. Air International September 1979, p. 113.


  • Jackson, Paul. Jane's All The World's Aircraft 2003–2004. Coulsdon, UK: Jane's Information Group, 2003. ISBN 0-7106-2537-5.
  • Lambert, Mark. Jane's All The World's Aircraft 1993-94. Coulsdon, UK: Jane's Data Division, 1993. ISBN 0-7106-1066-1.
  • "The Svelte Switzer ... Pilatus' Turbo Trainer". Air International, Vol. 16, No. 3, September 1979, pp. 111–118.

External links

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