The late 50's was a development period for a number of top-dressing aircraft. In New Zealand Luigi Pellarini developed the Pl-11, a twin boom agricultural aircraft. In the early 60's Pellarini took his designs to Australia, and Transavia put the PL-12 into development. The prototype flew on April 15, 1965, powered by a 285hp RR/Continental IO-520-A. Deliveries began in December 1966, and 110 aircraft were completed. In December 1970 the prototype PL-12U was flown, and certified the following year. This was intended as a multi-role aircraft for cargo, passenger, air ambulance and aerial survey tasks. In Thailand it was even armed and used for counter-insurgency operations. In 1976, the T320 was released with the RR/Continental Tiara 6-320 engine, but when this engine was no longer available changed to the Lycoming IO-540-K1A5. This new version became the T300 Skyfarmer. Some of these have been assembled in New Zealand by Flight Engineering Ltd.
The Airtruk is fully aerobatic with a limited load. A number of components such as the tailbooms, tail surfaces, ailerons, flaps, shock absorbers and wheel assemblies are interchangeable. A small cabin behind the hopper can hold 2 passengers for ferry flights.
A number of PL-11's and PL-12's have been operated in New Zealand in the agricultural role. Only one remains on the active register (as at July 1, 1998). This is ZK-TRS (c/n NZ112). Severla other aircraft are held by museums, including ZK-DMZ (c/n 356) held by the Ashburton Aviation Museum (illustrated below), and ZK-DMX (c/n 352) in store at MoTaT.
Last Update:- 30 September, 1998
© 1998 Phillip Treweek, all rights reserved