The manufacturer Pilatis Switzerland is a world leader in military training aircraft.
From time to time disputes (banking, ...) emerge between Switzerland and Israel. This time it concerns the military. According swissinfo.ch: "The orders flow from Pilatus. Switzerland The manufacturer has become a world leader in military training aircraft. Success can be explained by the performance of the devices, but also specialize in a growing market skinny and neglected by the competition. Headquartered in Stans, Nidwalden in the company Pilatus has seen results soar last year. including the manufacturer has announced a record turnover of 781 million francs, increase of almost 14% compared to 2010.
And the future could be even more prosperous. Since the beginning of the year, the company has received orders for 154 aircraft, including 79 of its latest PC-21. But how to explain such a success, with regular controversy due to the use of Pilatus aircraft observed in several theaters of war in recent years?
An apparatus while a
In the magazine online Flightglobal aviation, the British driver Peter Collins lifts the veil. Faced with budgetary constraints, many air forces are facing a dilemma: how to produce highly trained pilots flying techniques and attack in a minimum of time and cost?
"In the future, we will need a trainer easy to maintain but with such high performance and an embedded simulation system so sophisticated that it can replace three or four types of devices and thus cover the entire training program, "says he. However, the PC-21 meets these criteria, said test pilot, who himself tested the device.
"The Swiss Air Force has shown that one can use the PC-21 throughout the training process, confirms Max Ungricht, editor of the Swiss magazine Cockpit. This is something that did not exist before. We always had two or three types of aircraft between the first driving apparatus and fighter aircraft. It costs more and takes longer. Pilatus system therefore presents a great advantage. "
A custom cockpit
Two features in particular make the PC-21 meets the criteria. Firstly, although it is equipped with a propeller turboprop aircraft behaves like a jet.
"It is designed to not have the disadvantage of a typical propeller plane, namely a tendency to be deported on the side due to the movement of the engine and the pressure generated by the propeller on the fuselage, explains Max Ungricht. On the PC-21, the trajectory correction is automatic, which does not exist on other comparable devices. The driver has the feeling of flying a jet, whose propulsion is always right. "
Furthermore the behavior of the device, this sensation of flying a jet is reinforced inside the cockpit."The cockpit of the PC-21 is very close to that of an F/A-18," notes Max Ungricht.
But this procedure may also be custom built. In his report, Peter Collins said the company Pilatus can make the cockpit similar to the fighter with the most modern, such as the Mirage 2000, Eurofighter and Saab Gripen.
Very good value for money
But the innovations of the last PC-21 does not explain alone the commercial success of Pilatus. Stans society also benefits from an excellent image and experience of several decades.
"Pilatus began in 1947 with its first model, the PC-2, which was already a very advanced trainer aircraft at the time, said the pilot and flight instructor Raoul Weit. The firm is the beginning focused on two goals: reduction of costs compared to larger devices, powerful and exceptional flying qualities that make their devices very enjoyable to ride. "
"PCs are very reliable, he says. The value is exceptional for the user. In the Swiss Air Force, we see today that the PC-7 are more than 30 years, but are still like new. This is clearly a difference for an operator who gets stuck with a machine that never gets old, except of course in technology. This is certainly one of the keys to the success of Pilatus. "
Always less competition
Still Pilatus also has the advantage to operate in a market where competition is always less intense.Decrease in the number of fighters that the number of training aircraft also decreases. Many manufacturers have therefore abandoned this sector.
"Even in the 1980s, there were half a thousand jets in Switzerland against only 35 today, said Raoul Weit. It was therefore formed between 70 and 80 pilots per year, against 8 today. Other European countries, for financial reasons, also reduced the wing, which is reflected in the aircraft market practice. "
A less competition, of course, but nevertheless still active. For example with the Russian aviation industry that interests a dozen countries with his new trainer and combat Iak-130, or the Italian who sold mid-July 30 seater jets training in M-346 'Israeli Air Force.
Problem for neutrality
Exports, however, regularly Pilatus create controversy. Indeed, these training aircraft can be armed and afterwards used especially for ground attack. This poses a problem with the concept of Swiss neutrality, which prohibits the export of weapons to conflict zones.
The boss Oscar Schwenk Pilatus admitted early August that Israeli company, Elbit Systems was able to arm the old models like the PC-7 and PC-9. The new PC-21 can instead be armed without the assistance of Pilatus, because it is a "very complex aircraft does qu'assisté computer," he said in an interview with the business newspaper Handelszeitung.
Pilatus boss said he had asked the Swiss government to intervene with the Israeli ambassador in Bern. An approach for time remained unanswered.
The experts consulted by swissinfo.ch however, believe that the controversy surrounding the arming of PC is a false problem. "The results have not been conclusive, said Raoul Weit. PCs are not structurally designed to withstand bombs or missiles. Of course, you can always try to arm a PC, but aerodynamics is a science, and it is difficult to go against its basic rules. "
"We can equip all aircraft, even mine, Max wins Ungricht. But the concept, the PC is not a fighter. It is unfortunate that Switzerland, Pilatus is more critical for these armaments issues rather than stressed the extraordinary success of this small company. "