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OPINION: Developing Swiss precision

Just 35 miles – and several mountains – separate the small Swiss towns of Pfäffikon and Stans.

The latter, of course, is home to Switzerland’s aerospace champion Pilatus. It is rightly famous for producing aircraft that, while having competitors, are sufficiently differentiated to have carved their own niche.

And as anyone who has encountered its chairman Oscar Schwenk will attest, Pilatus has a different way of doing things.

Despite Switzerland being famed for its innate conservatism, that rebellious attitude seems to have taken root in Pfäffikon too.

Here, located in a former cider factory, Marenco Swisshelicopter is hoping its entry into the market for light single-engined rotorcraft will take on the sector’s established players.

The SKYe SH09 will not revolutionise the segment, but it features a clutch of innovations that make it stand out from its competitors. Small volumes, high precision – like watch-making, as the company likes to say.

Marenco has not had everything its own way. An optimistic development timeline has inevitably slipped. Nonetheless, the relatively rapid transition from drawing board to flying prototype has been impressive.

Provided that momentum can be sustained and, crucially, programme funding maintained, the market will have a new challenger on its hands.

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