Pilatus Aircraft will cease production of the PC-6 unpressurized turboprop single in early 2019 as it turns more of its attention to the PC-24 twinjet, the Swiss company announced. More than 500 of the multi-role Pilatus Porters have been produced at the manufacturer’s Stans headquarters since 1959, marking one of the longest continuous productions runs in the aviation industry. Nearly 100 were also produced in the U.S. under license. Support will be provided to existing PC-6 customers for “at least” the next 20 years, according to Pilatus.
The PC-6 is well known for its short takeoff and landing capabilities and general versatility. Among its achievements, the Pilatus Porter holds a world record for flying several cargo and passenger trips at maximum useful load to 18,700 feet (5,700 meters).
The first Pilatus Porter went on show at the international Paris Air Show, a month after the maiden flight. It was officially approved by the Swiss Federal Office of Civil Aviation just five months after that first flight. On 12 March 1960, the aircraft took off to join the Dhaulagiri expedition in Nepal, a trip of almost 10 000 km. Even in those early days, PC-6 earned itself a first world record for several landings at altitudes of over 5000 m above sea-level.
National Flag Carrier of Nepal, Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC) had operated three Pilatus Porter aircraft from 1961 to 1998. Similarly, Yeti Airlines in 2009 had introduced two PC-6 (Pilatus) to serve the isolated population of Nepal living in faraway mountain areas by providing the only means of transportation and connection to the outside world.
“Due to the age of the PC-6 and other certification parameters, it is no longer possible to provide this ongoing development in the scope we would wish,” Pilatus said. “Also in connection with our PC-24 jet, for which series production is currently gearing up in Stans, and which requires our full attention, we have decided that the PC-6 no longer fits our product portfolio, and that, after 60 years, it is now time to cease production.”
According to the Pilatus, the Employees on the PC-6 production line will be assigned to the PC-12 or PC-24 assembly lines. Pilatus will accept orders for the PC-6 until mid-2018.