Pilatus PC-9M of the Slovenian Armed Forces
Role Basic/advanced trainer aircraft
National origin Switzerland
Manufacturer Pilatus Aircraft
First flight 7 May 1984
Status Active service
Primary users Swiss Air Force
Slovenian Air Force and Air Defence
Royal Saudi Air Force
Royal Thai Air Force
Produced 1984–present
Number built 265
Developed from Pilatus PC-7
Developed into T-6 Texan II

The Pilatus PC-9 is a single-engine, low-wing tandem-seat turboprop training aircraft manufactured by Pilatus Aircraft of Switzerland. Designed as a more powerful evolution of the Pilatus PC-7, the PC-9's first flight was made in May 1984 after which certification was achieved in September 1985. After this, the first production orders for the type were received from the Royal Saudi Air Force, with deliveries commencing in 1985. Since then, more than 250 airframes have been produced across five different variants, and the type is employed by a number of military and civilian operators around the world, including the Swiss Air Force, Croatian Air Force, Royal Thai Air Force and the Irish Air Corps

Design and development

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The PC-9 is a more powerful evolution of the PC-7. It retains the overall layout of its predecessor, but it has very little structural commonality with it. Amongst other improvements, the PC-9 features a larger cockpit with stepped ejection seats and also has a ventral airbrake.

The PC-9 program officially started in 1982. Although some aerodynamic elements were tested on a PC-7 during 1982 and 1983, the first flight of the first PC-9 prototype took place on 7 May 1984. A second prototype flew on 20 July of the same year; this prototype had all the standard electronic flight instrumentation and environmental control systems installed and was thus almost fully representative of the production version.

Certification was achieved in September 1985. By this time, the PC-9 had lost the Royal Air Force trainer competition to the Short Tucano. However, the marketing links that Pilatus built up with British Aerospace during the competition led to their first order from Saudi Arabia.

As of 2004, more than 250 aircraft of this type have been built.

Operational history

The first production aircraft for the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) flew on 19 May 1987, under the Australian designation PC-9/A.

Condor of Germany uses 10 examples of the target-towing variant.

On 22 March 1991, during Operation Provide Comfort, Capt. Thomas Dietz and Lt. Bob Hehemann were patrolling over Iraqi airspace in F-15C Eagles when they detected two contacts on radar, prompting Dietz and Hehemann to approach to visually identify them. Hehemann pursued a PC-9, while Dietz positioned himself behind and shot down a Sukhoi Su-22. The pilot of the PC-9 saw the explosion and spontaneously ejected, nearly being struck by Hehemann. Hehemann confirmed the chute deployment and pilots’ survival before flying in formation with the empty aircraft until it descended and crashed into the ground a minute and fifty seconds later. Hehemann was awarded with a maneuver kill.[1]

In August 2015, Pilatus received a contract to deliver nine PC-9Ms to the Royal Jordanian Air Force, but in April 2016 changed the order to eight PC-21s. Deliveries were due to start in January 2017 under the original deal.[2]

The United States Army operated three PC-9s from 1991 to 1996 as chase and test aircraft. They eventually were sold to Slovenia in 1995.[3]


Swiss Air Force PC-9 with Vista 5 Jammer
Two-seat basic trainer aircraft.
67 two-seat trainers for the Royal Australian Air Force. 2 fully built planes supplied by Pilatus, 17 assembled from kits and 48 built under licence in Australia by Hawker de Havilland.[4][5]
Two-seat target-towing aircraft for the German Air Force. This target-towing version has an increased fuel capacity enabling flight for up to 3 hours and 20 minutes as well as two Southwest RM-24 winches under the wings. These winches can reel out a target up to 3.5 kilometres.
This version was introduced in 1997 as the new standard model. It has an enlarged dorsal fin in order to improve longitudinal stability, modified wingroot fairings, stall strips on the leading edges as well as new engine and propeller controls. Croatia bought 17 new examples in 1997; Slovenia placed an order for nine (nicknamed Hudournik – "Swift") in December of the same year; Oman ordered 12 examples in January 1999; and Ireland signed a contract for eight in January 2003. Bulgaria purchased 12 aircraft in 2004. Mexico received at least two in September 2006. The last order was made by Ireland for one attrition replacement aircraft, it was delivered in 2017.[6]
Beech Pilatus PC-9 Mk.2
In order to compete in the United States JPATS competition, Pilatus and Beechcraft developed an extensively modified version of the PC-9, initially called the Beech Pilatus PC-9 Mk. II which won out over seven other contenders.[7] It was later renamed the Beechcraft T-6A Texan II and is now built and marketed independently by Beechcraft. Over 700 are to be built for the United States Air Force and United States Navy, with Pilatus receiving royalties.


Military operators

Bulgarian Air Force Pilatus PC-9M
Croatian Air Force aerobatic team Wings of Storm
Pilatus PC-9s of the Irish Air Corps flying in formation

Former military operators

RAAF PC-9/A operated by 2FTS
 United States

Aircraft on display


Specifications (PC-9M)

Data from Jane's All The World's Aircraft 2003–2004[11]

General characteristics



See also

Related development

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration, and era



  1. ^ Davies, Steve (2005). F-15C Eagle Units in Combat. Oxford: Osprey Publishing. p. 74. ISBN 978-1-84176-730-7.
  2. ^ "Jordan amends Pilatus order to take PC-21 trainers". FlightGlobal. 11 April 2016. Archived from the original on 17 April 2016. Retrieved 13 April 2016.
  3. ^ a b Harding 1997, p. 202.
  4. ^ "ADF Serials - Pilatus Pc-9a". Archived from the original on 2019-02-28. Retrieved 2018-09-18.
  5. ^ "Pilatus Turbo-Trainers". Archived from the original on 2012-12-05. Retrieved 2012-11-09.
  6. ^ "Air Corps receive new Pilatus PC-9M". FlyingInIreland.com. 6 July 2017.
  7. ^ Eddie Torson (March 1993). "Beech's J-PATS Candidate Reaches The Final Phase of Testing". Air Progress.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m "World Air Forces 2018". Flightglobal Insight. 2018. Archived from the original on 2 December 2017. Retrieved 2 April 2018.
  9. ^ Dominguez, Gabriel (12 December 2019). "RAAF retires fleet of PC-9/A training aircraft". Jane's. Retrieved 14 December 2019.
  10. ^ "Defence provides update on Hornet disposal plans". Australian Defence Magazine. 7 May 2020.
  11. ^ Jackson 2003, pp. 455–456.


  • Harding, Stephen. U.S. Army Aircraft Since 1947. Atglen, Pennsylvania: Schiffer Publishing Ltd., 1997. ISBN 978-0-76430-190-2.
  • Jackson, Paul. Jane's All The World's Aircraft 2003–2004. Coulsdon, UK: Jane's Information Group, 2003. ISBN 0-7106-2537-5.