With Embraer producing a high performance yet inexpensive turboprop training aircraft, Pilatus of Switzerland could not stay behind. The PC-7 was clearly no match for the new Tucano. Therefore it was significantly improved.
The PC-9 has straight low wings mated to a slender fuselage with a cockpit in which the instructor pilot sits higher than the student pilot. The canopy has two parts, separated by a bow frame behind the front seat. The wings have a part, close to the roots, where they have no dihedral. Only the outer wings have dihedral. The PT6 engine powers a four bladed propeller.
The different versions of the PC-9 can be recognised by:
- the size and shape of the dorsal fin
- the capability for target towing
- the presence of a small mirror on the left wing tip
PC-9 & PC-9/A
The PC-9 is the version that stays the closest to the PC-7, in particular when looking at the tail. These are nearly the same on both aircraft. Of course the PC-9 has the new canopy and a four bladed prop.
The PC-9/A is externally the same, but a PC-9 built by Hawker de Havilland in Australia for the RAAF. Specific feature are low-pressure tires and a different avionics system.
The German air force uses PC-9s for target towing. These are known as PC-9B, but are generally the same as the PC-9. Apart from the provision for target towing pods under the wings, they can be recognised by a small mirror placed on the left wing tip.
This is the ultimate version of the PC-9, and has the larger dorsal fin of the PC-7 MkII as main recognition point, But that also makes it virtually undistinguishable from that aircraft.
Confusion possible with
The most tricky recognition is between the PC-7 MkII and PC-9. The first is basically a PC-9M with the engine of the original PC-7. We have found no external differences between the two yet...
Being derived from the Pilatus PC-9 it is logical that it share a lot of similarities with the Texan II (although in practice only the tires seem to be exchangable!). The difference are in the dorsal fin (bigger on the PC-9M at least), ventral fin (not on the PC-9) and canopy (two piece on the PC-9).
The successor of the PC-9 has a two piece canopy, wings with constant (small) dihedral, a trailing link main landing gear and a shark-like top of vertical stabiliser.
Another look-a-like is this trainer/light fighter. The canopy has two bow frames and the wings a constant dihedral, enough to avoid a mix-up with the PC-9. The nose gear is quite close to the prop, but not as much as on the Tucano. (photo: Mztourist/WikiMedia)
The PC-7 has similar wings as the PC-9, but a clearly different canopy. This has one frame, close to the front.
KAI KT-1 Woong-Bee
This Korean aircraft also resembles the PC-9. It also has a two piece canopy and no ventral fin. However, the wings have dihedral along the full span and the nose gear doors are shorter. (photo: Aldo Bidini/WikiMedia)
Especially the Super Tucano has a similar canopy as the PC-9, which may confuse you. However, all Tucano's have a nose gear that is close to the prop, much closer than the other aircraft mentioned here.
The last high performance turboprop training aircraft here has small winglets (on most versions) and constant dihedral wings to make identification from the PC-9 easy.