Designed by: Pilatus Aircraft Ltd, Stans, Switzerland
Year of manufacture: 1982
Purpose: Basic, aerobatic and instrument schooling (IFR), transport flights
Crew: 1 Pilot, 1 Student
Commenced service: 1982/1983
Number of aircraft procured: 40
Number of aircraft still in service: 28 (as per March 2012)
Registration: A-902 to A-941
The PC-7 is a two-seater "Turbo Trainer" utilized in the training of modern military pilots. As an initial training aircraft, the PC-7 introduces trainees to aerobatic flight and instrument navigation (IFR). Today the PC-7 is counted as one of the most advanced aircraft world-wide within the category of aircraft trainers. Since 1982 these aircraft have been operated by the Swiss Air Force pilot school.
In October 2006, the two first PC-7 aircraft with the converted new cockpit (NCPC-7) were delivered to the air force. On 30 September 2003, armasuisse flew the prototype for the first time. A glass cockpit, GPS, autopilot, a second VHF radio system as well as a new paint scheme are the most prominent alterations. This upgrade provides a significantly extended range of operations. The aircraft can now be deployed in accordance with civilian IFR procedures and used for flight training according to JAR FCL. On 29 February 2008, altogether eighteen NCPC-7 aircraft were officially handed over to the air force in a small ceremony. The simulator built by RUAG Aerospace will be operational in spring of 2008.
Since 2007, flying aptitude (selection) and basic flight training at the air force pilot school have been carried out exclusively with the NCPC-7 in Locarno. IFR training is supported by Instr Fl Sqn 14. In addition, some aircraft of the fleet are flown by the PC-7 Team and deployed for special air policing missions. In 2007, for the first time, examinations for civilian IR revalidation were carried out. In the same year, pilots engaged at the air force pilot school as flight instructors, pilots of Instr Flt Sqn 14 as well as members of the PC-7 TEAM were re-trained to fly the NCPC-7. This upgrade provides a further step towards modern pilot training.
In addition to the 28 NCPC-7 aircraft that had all been upgraded to the same technical level, there remained until autumn 2009 but five ’old’ PC-7 planes in operation for the air force, which, however, for various reasons were no longer converted. Four aircraft remained in the air force until the end of 2009, in February 2010 two (A-909 and A-910) and approximately by the end of the first quarter of 2010 all the ’old’ ones had left and as far as the air force was concerned, were liquidated or could be offered for sale by armasuisse (A-904 and
Aeroplane A-903 with a broken nose gear (technical problem during landing on 31 May 2007) was sold to Pilatus, likewise, the A-910. One PC-7 (A-902) was delivered to the air force AAA museum at the Air Force Centre in Dubendorf (canton of Zurich) and another machine (A-908) was given to the Musée de l'Aviation Militaire de Payerne ’Clin d'Ailes’. The A-907 was handed over to the Altenrhein Air Force Museum (‘the flying museum’) and flies today under the civilian matriculation number of T7-FMA from San Marino, while the A-906 was flown to the AMPA in Lausanne.
The following PC-7 aircraft were lost due to crashes: A-905 (7 March 1990), Chanrion lake in the Bagnes valley, canton of Valais), A-920 (15 April 1994, Oberstocken, canton of Bern, northern slope of the Stockhorn mountain) and A-921 (12 November 2001, near Bonaduz, canton of the Grisons). For details see Peter Brotschi’s book ‘Broken Wings’.