Pilatus Aircraft is hoping that local manufacture of the PC-6 Porter will assist in its campaign to generate more sales in China.

The Swiss aircraft manufacturer’s CEO, Markus Bucher, concedes that Pilatus is really “just at the beginning” when it comes to selling aircraft into China. He says Pilatus will have delivered 10 PC-6s to China this year, which means at year-end the total Pilatus fleet in-country will be 15 PC-6s and one PC-12.

Despite the small numbers presently, Pilatus has big ambitions.

Part of the strategy, to boost sales in China, involves building a local manufacturing facility that will make PC-6 sub-assemblies, as well as be responsible for systems integration and completion. It will also have a flight test centre and maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) facility.

The plan is for the JV to steadily increase its work scope to the point that at the end of 2016 it will have completed its first PC-6 aircraft, says Bucher.

“For structural assembly, European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) certification is not required, but for systems integration EASA Part 21 will be required,” says Bucher, adding that Pilatus plans to ask EASA to allow for Pilatus’ existing Part 21 certification to include the Chongqing facility.

In addition, there will be a completion centre for the PC-12, says Bucher, adding that the company will fly in ‘green aircraft’ from overseas and do the interior configuration work and paint the livery in China. Pilatus aims to have the PC-12 completion centre in China working on aircraft within the next three years.  

The Pilatus facilities will be centred at an airport being built by the authorities in Chongqing, a city in western China. The new airport is in an industrial area called Liang Jiang which the Chongqing Municipal Government has earmarked as a center for aerospace.

Bucher says Pilatus’ manufacturing joint-venture in China already has 14 people employed and the number will increase to 40 next year. Beijing Tian Xing Jian Yu Science Company is the Chinese partner in the JV, which has started manufacturing PC-6 sub-assemblies that are then shipped to Pilatus’ final assembly plant in Stans, Switzerland. In terms of sub-assembly work, it is starting with the fuselage sections, but will also be making the wings and moving panels.

Pilatus has a PC-6 fuselage on display here at Zhuhai to showcase its Chinese manufacturing. This fuselage is actually the very first made by the Chinese JV, he adds. There will also be on the static display a PC-6 and PC-12.