Pilatus Introduces A Rough-Field Twinjet

By Fred George
Source: Aviation Week & Space Technology

Extensive wind-tunnel tests were conducted at Prague's Aerospace Research and Test Establishment, the National Aerospace Laboratory of the Netherlands and Ruag's facility in Switzerland. The final results were not compiled until early this month.

The PC-24's short-runway performance will enable it to use 1,300 more airports around the world than the Phenom 300. And its ability to operate from unpaved facilities—“It can land on all kinds of surfaces, except water,” Schwenk says—will give it access to 21,000 more runways globally than those available to aircraft restricted to using paved runways. A gravel kit will be fitted to the nosewheel to deflect debris away from the engine inlets and the wing flaps will be armored for protection from debris thrown back by the main landing gear. Notably, the jet will be fitted with dual-wheel main gear with low-pressure tires and anti-skid brakes.

The 501-cu.-ft. cabin is 5.1 ft. high, 5.6 ft .wide and 23 ft. long from the cockpit-to-cabin partition to the aft-pressure bulkhead. The cabin windows will be the largest in the midsize-jet class. Maximum cabin altitude is 8,000 ft. at the aircraft's 45,000-ft. maximum cruising altitude. There is a fully enclosed forward cabin, externally serviced lavatory and 51-90 cu. ft. of internal luggage capacity, depending on placement of the aft-cabin partition.

Interior volume will be bigger than that of a Citation XLS+, but smaller than in a Hawker 900XP. Unlike most midsize aircraft, though, it will have a flat floor plus both a forward passenger and a 51 X 49-in. rear cargo door, a feature similar to that on the PC-12. Fitting the aircraft with a dropped aisle would have offered more center-aisle headroom, but it would have hindered cargo handling.

Pilatus believes the aircraft will find a home with cargo, medevac, commuter and even government special missions operators, along with its traditional customer base of high net-worth individual owner-operators, air charter operators and small companies. Six cabin layouts will be offered accommodating 6-8 passengers in executive configuration, 10 in commuter seating, a pure cargo configuration and a 50/50 passenger-cargo combination.

The PC-24 will be able to climb directly to FL450 in 30 min., Schwenk asserts, and it will achieve its maximum cruise speed of 425 KTAS at FL300. Pilatus says maximum payload will be 2,500 lb. and the aircraft should have a tanks-full payload of 915 lb., enabling it to fly four passengers 1,950 nm at long-range cruise. However, based upon preliminary specifications released by Pilatus, Aviation Week believes tanks-full payload will be 847 lb.

The aircraft will be powered by two Williams International FJ44-4A turbofans, rated at 3,400 lb. thrust for takeoff. The auto power reserve will boost thrust to 3,600 lb. with an estimated flat rating of ISA+11C. Williams also is engineering a new noise-attenuating inlet for the nacelle along with a passive thrust vectoring system that will use the Coanda effect to deflect thrust 2-3-deg. upward at takeoff for better aircraft pitch-control response. And it is developing a proprietary low-idle speed mode that will enable the right engine to serve as a low-noise auxiliary power unit.

The advanced cockpit environment flight deck, or ACE, will feature Honeywell's second-generation Apex avionics, with four 12-in. landscape displays in a T configuration, Laseref inertial reference and attitude/heading reference systems, enhanced-ground-proximity-warning and traffic-alert and collision-avoidance systems, along with autothrottles, localizer-performance with vertical-guidance (LPV) approach and graphical flight planning.

Parts now are being fabricated at the Pilatus factory in Stans, Switzerland. Rollout is slated for mid-2014 and first flight is set for fourth-quarter 2014. Three aircraft will be used in a 2,500-hr. development program leading to FAA and European Aviation Safety Agency certification in early 2017, followed immediately thereafter by entry into service.

Comments On Articles