Message 09.08.2018

Crafted in Switzerland – The New PC-12 Demo Aircraft

White with a black silhouette – representing Swiss tradition and the unique alpine landscape. That’s the livery chosen for the new Pilatus PC-12 demo aircraft. Esther Gerber's design, inspired by the traditional Swiss art of paper cutting, reflects the core values of all Pilatus products: Swiss craftsmanship and perfection. Pilatus Aircraft Ltd

The new Pilatus PC-12 NG Demonstrator has been in the air since early June, sporting an eye-catching colour scheme based on a paper cut design. Paper cutting, a traditional Swiss craft, combines precision work and down-to-earthness. Two qualities which also apply to the PC-12. So why not put the two together?

From the initial idea through to final implementation

A paper cut on an aircraft? An idea which Pilatus presented to Bernese paper cutting artist, Esther Gerber. It had to be typically Swiss, obviously. “I took the idea and placed it an overall context.” Esther Gerber started by drawing rough sketches of the design on a small scale. After approval by Pilatus, the design was enlarged to approx. 1.20 m in length. At this point, the real work got underway: “The drawing itself took around one week, but the actual cutting-out work took well over a month”, explains Esther. 

Esther Gerber’s finished design was then digitalised and enlarged to fit the aircraft. Once finished, it took several hours to apply the black film to the white PC-12 NG. Here too, precision, craftsmanship and attention to the tiniest detail were essential. The individual sections of the design had to be placed in just the right position to ensure an optimum overall effect. We think it’s a job well done! 

Alps, flag-wavers and ibexes

A typical Swiss chalet is the focal point of the design. There are sheep grazing in the meadows and cows on their way to mountain pastures, accompanied by farmers and flag-wavers in traditional dress. Two ibexes also adorn the aircraft. A young couple can be seen dancing to the sounds of musicians as deer listen. Hikers and lantern bearers can also be spotted amongst the figures. And in the distance, the Bernese Alps with Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau. And the Matterhorn, of course! Not forgetting the Swiss flag, an edelweiss and Mount Pilatus. 

Parallels and contrasts

So, how can an aircraft be compared to a paper cut? “An aircraft moves fast, a paper cut takes a long time”, explains Esther Gerber. And the down-to-earthness of paper cutting is the absolute opposite to an aircraft in the air. There are plenty of contrasts! But even though the two activities appear to be far apart, there are at least as many parallels. Every time you look at a paper cut, you spot fresh details – exactly like the PC-12. Paper cutting is a traditional art uniting craftsmanship of the highest order and Swiss quality. The same qualities may be attributed to the PC-12.

The way Esther Gerber works with such a small pair of scissors, the way she cuts out the intricate figures and weaves them together to create an immense work of art is absolutely top class! Here too, there are parallels with the PC-12, which requires countless hours of work to mill, cut and assemble the smallest individual parts to create the overall finished product.

A visitor magnet at EBACE

The Pilatus PC-12 Demo was presented to the general public for the first time at EBACE in Geneva. Pilatus is the only company to have an indoor booth complete with aircraft. It would be difficult to estimate how many photographs were taken of the PC-12 – a lot, that’s for sure! Very few visitors made it past the Pilatus stand without getting out a smartphone or camera. There was enthusiastic feedback about the new livery. Esther Gerber was there too, understandably keen not to miss this opportunity to see “her” PC-12 in Geneva. She also talked to Markus Bucher, Pilatus CEO, in person and generously shared some paper cutting tips with him. Giving it a try himself, he was able to appreciate the complexity at first hand – a little more practice, perhaps?!

Interview with Esther Gerber
Paper Cutting Artist

How did you become interested in paper cutting?
It started out as a hobby – but quickly became a vocation. 27 years ago, I saw an announcement for a course in paper cutting. I’m a trained florist and have always been creative, so I was keen to do the course. I also have a talent for drawing. My husband gifted me a one-week course. That’s when I caught the paper-cutting virus, and I’ve had it ever since! I made so many paper cuts over the years that I got to the point where it was no longer just a hobby and I set up my own company in 2011.

What are the defining characteristics of your paper cuts?
I draw my inspiration from nature and try to keep my subjects as realistic as possible: mountains, people, animals, that kind of thing. I don’t stylise them. I make my trees look real, for example, you’ll always be able to make out their structure. That’s the sort of work I enjoy and is the hallmark of my style. 

How do you work?
The term paper-cutting says it all: I cut designs out of paper using scissors. In fact, only very few paper-cutting artists actually work with scissors. Many use knives. Which is not such a bad idea, after all. But I use a pair of scissors custom-made especially for me.

What does it mean to you to have your design featured on a Pilatus aircraft?
It’s incredible! I’ve done so many projects in the past, all of them wonderful – including for some big companies. But seeing my design on an aircraft, that’s really something special. I’m delighted with the finished result a real success! And I’m looking forward even more to seeing it in the sky one of these days!