Pilatus PC-9

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.

One of the key features of the PC-9 are the zero dihedral inner wings. It shares these with the T-6 Texan II.

Detail of the PC-9 nose. Note the relatively long nose gear doors.

The canopy of the PC-9 consists of two parts, separated by a bow frame in between the seats.

Different versions

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 original PC-9 is basically a PC-7 with a four bladed prop, a new canopy and ejection seats.

The tail of a PC-7, but that is the same as that of the first PC-9 versions. It has a relatively small dorsal fin.


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.

The PC-9B is externally nearly identical to the PC-9, but has a small mirror on top of the left wing tip. Here you see the painted back side. (photo: WikiMedia/bomberpilot)

One of the target towing pods underneath the wing of the PC-9B. (photo: WikiMedia/ILA-boy)


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.

A PC-9M of the Irish Air Corps.

A detail view on the tail of a PC-9M, with its larger dorsal fin.


This is the designation for the development aircraft for the Beechcraft T-6 Texan II. Look over there for details.

Confusion possible with

Pilatus PC-7 MkII

pc 7 mkii

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...

Beech T-6 Texan II

t 6a

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). 

Pilatus PC-21

pc 21

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.

Calidus B-250

calidus b 250

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)

Pilatus PC-7

pc 7

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

kai kt 1

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)

Embraer (Super) Tucano


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.

TAI Hürkuş

tai hurkus c

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.