On Tuesday, Oskar Schwenk, chairman of Pilatus Aircraft, unveiled the PC-24, a clean-sheet turbofan aircraft that will offer the short, soft field versatility of the PC-12, the cabin volume of a midsize aircraft and the cruise speed of a light jet.
Schwenk says “Pilatus always has been a trendsetter,” calling the newest aircraft from Stans the “super versatile jet” that will “be in a class of its own” for three reasons. It will offer a best-in-class 2,690 ft. takeoff field length, providing access to 1,300 more airports than light jets needing 3,130 ft. for takeoff. Projected landing distance is 2,525 ft.
Departing BCA’s 5,000 ft. elevation, ISA+20C airport, it will need only a 4,430-ft. runway. It also will be able to operate from unpaved runways, similar to a PC-12. “That opens up 21,000 runways around the world.” The landing gear will have dual main wheels and anti-skid braking.
Its 512-cu.-ft. cabin will be more capacious than that of the Citation XLS+, but smaller than that of the Hawker 900XP. The 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. It will have a fully enclosed, externally serviced lavatory, and as much as 90 cu. ft. of internal luggage capacity.
It will have to be able to climb directly to FL 450 in 30 minutes, Schwenk asserts, and it will have a maximum cruise speed of 425 kt. true at FL 300. Maximum payload is 2,500 lb., and the aircraft will have a tanks-full payload of 915 lb., enabling it to fly four passengers 1,950 nm at long-range cruise.
Notably, the aircraft will have the largest windows of any aircraft in its class, along with a “huge” 4.2 ft. high by 4.1 ft. wide aft cargo door and a flat floor for easy loading of cargo. Pilatus believes the aircraft will find a home with cargo, medevac, commuter and even government special-missions operators, along with its historical customer base of high-net-worth individual owner-operators, air charter operators and small companies, among others.
Williams will supply a brace of FJ44-4A turbofans, with a 3,600 lb. thrust APR rating for takeoff and a proprietary low idle mode that will allow one engine to be used as an APU. Honeywell’s second-generation APEX avionics will be fitted to the aircraft, featuring four large-format displays in a T configuration, standard synthetic vision, a Laseref IRS, an AHRS, E GPWS and TCAS II.
Parts are now being fabricated in Stans. Rollout is slated for mid-2014, and first flight should occur in 4Q14. Three aircraft will be used in a 2,500-hour development program leading to FAA and EASA certification in early 2017, followed thereafter by entry into service.
“Switzerland long has been known for its mountains, chocolate, cows and Pilatus aircraft. Now there’s a new mountain crystal.”