What's so special about the Pilatus PC-6 Porter that makes it a world-leading STOL aircraft? How do its features work?


1 Answer 1


Quite simple. Big wings with decent flaps, lots of power.

11.2 lb/hp at gross. Wing loading of 19 lb/sf.

Comes down to how slow can you fly, and how fast you can get to that speed. Without exotic high lift devices, it's mostly about wing loading and power loading. The Pilatus only has to accelerate to a little over 60 mph and there is power to get it there in around 600 feet. So there you go.

It's STOL, but not what I would call "super STOL". For that you'd need full span flaps and slats and or bigger wings and a higher power to weight. Like a Helio Stallion.

The Porter isn't a unique super-plane and it doesn't have any fancy high lift secrets. It still needs about an 800 ft runway. It just has a good all around configuration for its job, easy to load, and is simple and rugged. It's the simple and rugged + good-enough-for-most-short-strips short field performance that's made it successful.

  • $\begingroup$ Don't forget the prop beta range which allows to reverse the prop in flight for very steep approaches. $\endgroup$ Apr 24, 2019 at 16:46
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    $\begingroup$ Although it is done, use of ground beta mode - discing or even reversing props in flight- is a big no-no and is not something you could use to promote the airplane performance wise. DeHavilland Canada pilots used to do that on Twin Otter demos but after some crashes in the 70s they were told to stop or else. I'd be surprised at any operator that lets their pilots use less then flight idle until on the ground. $\endgroup$
    – John K
    Apr 24, 2019 at 18:06
  • $\begingroup$ Are there any other really good STOL planes? $\endgroup$
    – Osprey
    Apr 25, 2019 at 11:13
  • $\begingroup$ Pretty much everything DeHavilland Canada designed between the Chipmunk and Dash 8, DHC 2 thru 7 en.wikipedia.org/wiki/De_Havilland_Canada. The DHC5 Buffalo was 49000lbs and could operate from a football field. The notable design feature for DHC products was full span double slotted flaps. They dispensed with LE slats because you have to operate at crazy high pitch angles to exploit the STOL benefits of slats. DH Canada was the US Army's go-to supplier of STOL utility airplanes up to the mid 60s. $\endgroup$
    – John K
    Apr 25, 2019 at 13:39

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