M.E. Bührle, owner of Oerlikon Group, formed syndicate 1938 leading to wholly-owned subsidiary Pilatus Flugzeugwerke December 1939, hiring as chief engineer H. Fierz, formerly with Alfred Comte. Prototype SB-2 Pelikan STOL 5-seater (May 1944) led to P-2 and P-3 advanced trainers, P-4 5-seater and PC-6 Porter (4 May 1959), initially piston-engined, later turboprop, 500 of many variants by late 1991. Turboprop trainers began with PC-7 (12 April 1966), 460 delivered by 1993, leading to PC-9 (7 May 1984), 190+ 1993. Major risk is massive investment in PC-12 pressurized turboprop business transport or 9-passenger airliner (31 May 1991). Company purchased assets of Britten-Norman 24 January 1979 (see Pilatus Britten-Norman). In December 1998, as part of a move to dispose of its aerospace activities, Oerlikon-Bührle (now renamed Unaxis) revealed that it was seeking a buyer for Pilatus. New owners were named on 1 March 2001 as a consortium comprising Jörg Burkart, IHAG Holding, Hoffman-LaRoche pension fund and Karl Nicklaus. Company renamed Pilatus Aircraft Ltd. Current products include PC-9M Turbo Trainer, PC-12 and PC-21. Pilatus also has offices in Australia, Malaysia and Abu Dhabi; subsidiaries in Switzerland include TSA Transairco and Altenrhein Aviation.