Pilatus Tests PC-12s with Autothrottle, EEC

 - August 17, 2019, 8:26 AM

Pilatus Aircraft appears to be working on an upgrade to its PC-12 turboprop single that entails a higher-power Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6E-67XP engine with autothrottle and a single power lever, as well as new five-blade Hartzell propeller with electronically controlled hub, according to public information available from the FAA, EASA, and Swiss civil aviation office. In fact, Swiss aircraft registry records show that Pilatus has been flying two experimental-category PC-12s with the -67XP engine and at least one with the new Hartzell propeller system.

This counters recent moves by competitor Daher, which announced an upgraded TBM 940 with autothrottle in April, not to mention Textron Aviation’s in-development Denali turboprop single slated for certification later next year.

An EASA PC-12 type certification data sheet from May 22 indicates that the European authority has already approved a new aluminum Hartzell hub. This hub “complies with the propeller airworthiness requirements when used only with the…PT6E-67XP series engine, whose electronic software is written based on inputs from Hartzell’s dynamic simulation models,” the EASA document states. “The HC-E5A-31 model is identical except the beta feedback mechanism is electronic rather than hydro-mechanical.”

Meanwhile, the FAA published two special conditions for “auto thrust” and an electronic engine control system for the PC-12 on Thursday, meaning that Pilatus is nearing U.S. certification for the upgrade, which would ostensibly include the -67XP engine and new Hartzell hub/propeller system.

A Pilatus spokesman wouldn’t comment about any such upgrade, but said the company “frequently [flies] aircraft under experimental status as we test out various new features, components, and systems that may or may not eventually come to market.”