EBACE: Yeti takes to the mountains with Pilatus

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Visitors wouldbe hard pressed to find many half-century-old aircraft designs at EBACE, although the rugged Pilatus PC-6 just celebrated 50 years in the sky.

The PC-6 recorded its maiden sortie on 4 May 1959 and Pilatus has seen nearly 1,000 airframes built since for service all over the planet.

Pilatus hopes to deliver its 1,000th PC-6 in 2012, with between five and 10 built everyyear.

The 963rd PC-6, on display here, will end up in the hands of Kathmandu, Nepal-based Yeti Airlines. Yeti placed an order for two of the type for cargo services, as well as business and tourist flights in the mountainous Himalayan region.

Pilatus says the aircraft's short take-off and landing capability makes it ideal for the unfinished airfields, requiring as little as 50-100m (164-326ft) for a take-off roll.

After the show, the aircraft will be handed over to Yeti for a ferry marathon flight from Pilatus's nearby Stans facility to Kathmandu, with stops in Italy, Greece, Egypt, United Arab Emirates and Pakistan.

Pilatus customer support manager Thomas Henzi says that Yeti made its final fleet selection after watching two skydivers take a PC-6 above 29,200 feet, abeam with MtEverest after departing a nearby rugged airstrip in Shiangboche, Nepal 13,024ftabove sea level.