The company was
established in 1939, but it was not until 1944 that a Pilatus-built
aircraft, the SB-2 Pelican, first took to the air. Soon after, in 1945,
Pilatus started producing the P-2 trainer for the Swiss Air Force, of
which 54 were built.
This was followed by the P-3 military trainer, built for the Swiss Air
Force (72 aircraft) and the Brazilian Navy (6 aircraft), in 1953.
In 1959, the legendary civilian PC-6 Porter was introduced. This popular
utility aircraft and its successor, the Turbo Porter, are still being
Pilatus introduced the PC-11 (also known as the B-4) all-metal glider in
1972, of which a total of 322 were eventually built.
1978 saw the first flight of the tandem-seat PC-7 Turbo Trainer, although
an earlier (converted) version first flew in 1966. To date, more than 450
PC-7s have been built.
In 1979, Pilatus acquired Britten-Norman, constructor of the Britten-Norman
Islander and Britten-Norman Defender aircraft.
Pilatus built the first PC-9 Advanced Turbo Trainer in 1984; more than 250
aircraft of this type have been built to date.
The first of more than 70 PC-7 MkII Turbo Trainers was built in 1994. The
same year saw the introduction of Pilatus' most successful plane, the
turboprop-powered PC-12 multi-purpose aircraft. To date, more than 300
have been built.
The first PC-12 Eagle surveillance aircraft was built in 1995. It is
marketed in the western hemisphere by Pilatus Business Aircraft - a wholly
owned subsidiary of Pilatus Aircraft headquartered in Broomfield, Colorado
- which was established in the United States in 1996.
TSA Transairco SA of Geneva was procured by Pilatus in 1997. In 1998
Pilatus Australia Pty Ltd was established, while Britten-Norman was sold.
In December 2000, the owners Unaxis (previously called Oerlikon-Bührle)
sold Pilatus to a consortium of Swiss investors.
The latest-generation PC-21 advanced trainer was rolled out in 2002.