The first iteration of the PC-12 single engine turboprop was approved in 1994. Manufacturer Pilatus just had a handover ceremony for the 2,000th PC-12 which was sold to fractional operator PlaneSense, its longstanding US customer and the operator of the world’s largest civilian fleet of Pilatus PC-12s and PC-24 jets.
The PC-12 has seen multiple updates and improvements from the initial version. The latest PC-12 NGX, is the third variant, and has a range of up to 1,800nm, but PlaneSense says its typical flights are more like 300nm - 800nm. There can be seating for up to 10 passengers and 1 pilot, but the PlaneSense versions have 6 club seats and fly with 2 pilots. The maximum cruise speed is 290 knots (537 km/h) and the plane is renowned for getting into and out of short and rough air fields, so can go to many more places that would not be served by larger jets. The list price is about $6m for a new aircraft.
Pilatus recently announced that the global fleet of PC-12s has officially accumulated more than ten million flight hours. Out of all the 2,000 planes, the aircraft that has worked the most is based in Canada, and has flown more than 35,000 hours, while 71 other PC-12s have logged over 20,000 hours of flight time. As a whole, the PC-12 fleet has recorded more than 9.3 million landings, with four aircraft reporting over 50,000 landings.
The 2,000th PC-12 was celebrated by a large ceremony at the company’s headquarters in Stans, Switzerland and attended by over 2,000 employees. The anniversary aircraft went to PlaneSense by way of symbolic thanks for its many years of loyalty.
Markus Bucher, CEO of Pilatus, said at the handover: “Year after year, our PC-12 is, and will remain, the world’s best -selling single-engine turboprop aircraft in its class with pressurised cabin. We have continually developed our bestseller over the years and the current PC-12 is state of the art. Today, I’m very proud that I and my team are able to hand over the 2000th PC-12 to our exceptionally loyal and faithful customer PlaneSense. I’m grateful that we can count this very professional company among our customers. PlaneSense is an important part of the PC-12’s history, demonstrating day in, day out, that our proven, reliable and safe aircraft is ideally suited to the most demanding of missions. Quite simply, it’s the best aircraft in its class!”
Since 1995, PlaneSense has specialized in fractional aircraft ownership. The company currently operates 43 PC-12s and eleven Pilatus PC-24 light jets.
When PlaneSense picks up a new aircraft from Pilatus, they told us that it's normally two days of ferry flights to bring the aircraft back to their headquarters in Portsmouth, NH. The aircraft leaves Stans, Switzerland and goes to Prestwick, Scotland then to Reykjavik, Iceland. The next stop is Goose Bay in Labrador, Canada and then on to Portsmouth. Sometimes weather or other factors changes the route.
George Antoniadis, Founder, President and CEO of PlaneSense, comments: “We are honored to receive the 2,000th PC-12. We took delivery of our first PC-12, the 20th built, in 1995. This unique aircraft constitutes the backbone of our operation and has been an important part of the success of the PlaneSense program. Over the years, the mutual respect of our companies has supported a productive dialogue contributing to the improvement of the PC-12 and the PlaneSense program. Our clients have enjoyed the aircraft’s versatility, reliability, comfort, and efficiency for 28 years. Our partnership with Pilatus has been incredibly valuable and we look forward to expanding it further in the years to come.”
Pilatus says that statistically, there are over 70 PC-12s in the air at any given time. In 2022 alone, Pilatus produced 80 new PC-12s at its factory in Switzerland for delivery all over the world. The PC-12 is used for business travel, transport operations, medevac and emergency missions and search and rescue flights.