For Swiss manufacturer Pilatus, 2018 financial performance was up on 2017. Sales revenue surpassed the US$1 billion mark for the first time since 2015 and operating results exceeded US$154 million. In total 18 PC-24s, 80 PC-12 NGs, 27 PC-21s and three PC-6s were handed over to customers. Not only that, the future looks good: incoming orders worth nearly US$1 billion have brought the current order volume to US$2.06 billion, the equivalent of just under two years of sales revenue.
The delivery of the first PC-24 in February 2018 marked a milestone in a development phase that had spanned more than eleven years. The brand-new 'Super Versatile Jet' was the focus of much work throughout the year: besides bringing PC-24 series production operations up to speed, the customer service unit and entire service network also switched to live mode. At the same time the company continued to make improvements to the aircraft, pushing ahead with various post-certification test programmes aimed at delivering all aircraft capabilities promised to customers at the outset. The next milestone is just around the corner: the reopening of the PC-24 order book.
While the military sector is hugely important to Pilatus, the lack of new trainer fleet contracts in 2018 is not unduly worrying; Pilatus is focused on the necessary upstream work and has reinforced its sales efforts in this area. Constant growth in after-sales business is encouraging.
The general aviation business unit also saw continued expansion of its customer service operations. The volume of PC-24s in operation grows every week, generating similar growth in the number of customers requiring support. The network of authorised Pilatus centres was further strengthened to offer customers around the world the level of service they are entitled to expect in the business aircraft league.
At the end of 2018 the Pilatus Group employed 2,283 people, of whom 127 were apprentices, and over 150 new jobs were created. 93 per cent of all employees work in Switzerland. At the headquarters in Stans work progresses on the construction of the new structure assembly hall: this new centre of competence for airframe construction operations will be commissioned in spring 2019, a clear sign of commitment to the location in Switzerland.
The new completion centre run by US subsidiary Pilatus Business Aircraft in Broomfield, Colorado opened in the autumn. In Adelaide, preparatory work continued for the construction of a new, company-owned building for its Pilatus Australia subsidiary.
Chairman Oscar J Schwenk remarks: “I am pleased to note that financially 2018 was a very successful year for us. A year in which a great deal of energy went into performing much detailed work that will take us forward throughout the coming year, creating added benefit for our customers. The good financial results of the past year will also benefit our employees under our profit-sharing programme. In addition to an extra month's salary, they have also been paid a bonus equivalent to 1.5 times salary. Our next challenge is already in sight: the imminent re-opening of the PC-24 order book. This is the year in which the reputation of the PC-24 and all other related services will be established. We are consistent in our efforts towards achieving that goal, to consolidate our success and our future.”