Swiss aircraft registry records show that Pilatus Aircraft has been flying two experimental PC-12 turboprops with an upgraded engine and at least one with a new propeller system.
The test flights suggest the aerospace manufacturer is working on an upgrade to the PC-12 featuring the higher-power Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6E-67XP engine with autothrottle, as well as the five-blade Hartzell propeller with electronically controlled hub.
This follows an announcement in April by competitor Daher that it would be upgrading the TBM 940 with autothrottle, while Textron Aviation looks set to receive certification for its in-development Denali turboprop single later next year.
A European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) type certification sheet for the PC-12 from May 22 signals that the agency has approved the new Hartzell hub, which “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,” according to the document.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), meanwhile, published special conditions for the PC-12 concerning “auto thrust” and an electronic engine control system, suggesting Pilatus’ upgrade is approaching U.S. certification.
Pilatus declined to comment on the existence of any such upgrade, but a spokesman said the company “frequently
aircraft under experimental status as we test out various new features, components, and systems that may or may not eventually come to market.”