Patrick Durrant | Sydney
The legendary Pilatus Porter PC-6, 19 of which saw service in the Australian Army Aviation Corps, will cease production in early 2019.
The multi-role short take-off and landing (STOL) aircraft has been produced at Stans in Switzerland without interruption since 1959, with 500 of the type produced.
The Australian Army operated the turboprop variants from 1968 until 1992 as part of the 6th Aviation Regiment.
A statement from Pilatus indicated support will be provided to existing customers for the next 20 years at least. Slightly fewer than 100 machines were additionally produced in the USA under licence.
The PC-6 delivered an international breakthrough for Pilatus: its STOL capabilities and general versatility earned it worldwide fame and a reputation as a robust “all-rounder”. Amongst its many achievements, the Pilatus Porter has flown several cargo and passenger trips at maximum useful load to an altitude of 5700 metres above sea level – a world record that has not been bettered even to this day.
Explaining the decision to cease production, Pilatus stated it has a reputation for high tech and the latest generation aircraft, with its products benefitting from ongoing development to ensure they match the most recent standards.
Army ‘Turbo-Porters’ lined up at Oakey in the 80s. Credit: PC-6.com/Defence
“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.
“Also in connection with our PC-24 Super Versatile 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.”
Chairman of the Board of Directors of Pilatus Oscar J. Schwenk said the aircraft has earned the company fame and recognition worldwide.
“But the time has now come to take a dispassionate look at the facts and admit that every product has a life cycle which must come to an end sooner or later. That moment has arrived for the PC-6.”
Pilatus will accept orders for the PC-6 latest until mid-2018. The number of aircraft available is limited. The company stated existing customers may depend on at least 20 years of support and spare parts for the PC-6.