Pilatus is stepping up production of its single-turboprop PC-12 in anticipation of increased sales following recent US approval of commercial single-engined operations in instrument-flight-rules (IFR) conditions.
Production was increased from three to four a month in August and will reach five aircraft a month by early 1998.
The Swiss company expects half of its PC-12 sales to be to commercial operators now that single-engine IFR operations are allowed in Australia, Brazil, Canada and the USA. Other countries are expected to follow the rule change.
The first PC-12 in commercial service is operated by Labrador-based Kelner Airways, which flies the aircraft in scheduled passenger services during the day and freight services at night. Load factors with the nine-passenger aircraft are averaging 90%, says Kelner.
Pilatus recently delivered its 81st aircraft. PC-12 operators include Australia's Royal Flying Doctor Service, with five aircraft, and the US Plane Sense fractional-ownership programme, which has three of the $2.3 million aircraft, and plans to order a fourth. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police has one aircraft and plans to replace ten de Havilland Twin Otters with a lesser number of PC-12s.
Source: Flight International