November 15, 2012
Pilatus next spring is planning to unveil its PC-24 twin jet, the company’s first twin-engine business aircraft and first-ever jet product, company executives confirm.
The company has publicly acknowledged development of the PC-24 over the past couple of years, but would not say whether the aircraft would be a twin or a jet. But Pilatus verified that the aircraft would be a twin jet as part of its announcement that COO Markus Bucher was named CEO, succeeding Oscar Schwenk, who remains chairman of the board.
Pilatus has specialized in a line of business and military single-turboprop aircraft, and the last new business aircraft the company brought to market was its venerable PC-12, which entered service in 1994.
The PC-12 has proved lucrative for the Swiss manufacturer, with deliveries topping 1,100 units. The Pratt & Whitney PT-6 powered aircraft is credited with serving as a key catalyst in the development of the single-turboprop business market. The company has been able to tap into the PC-12 returns to help fund other projects, including the PC-21 military single-turboprop.
Once that program was well under way, Pilatus was able to refocus its research and development funding on the business and general aviation product line. Pilatus is providing few details about the aircraft, saying it plans to discuss the PC-24 during the European Business Aviation Convention and Exhibition in Geneva in May.
As for the management change, Schwenk will focus on strategic management of the company, In addition, Pilatus says Schwenk will support the development of major orders, “as well as heading up the senior project management of the key PC-24 development to ensure that this twin-engine business jet grows into yet another Pilatus success story.”
Schwenk also discussed the project last spring, saying that while the business and general aviation market has remained down, “I am sure that this project will see us lift off again.”
The company is investing millions of swiss francs – reportedly as many as 400 million ($424 million) – into the project. Once unveiled, the program is expected to be well along in development.
As Schwenk continues as chairman of the board of directors, Bucher will serve as chairman of the executive board and be responsible for managing the company’s objectives, expanding infrastructure and overseeing major projects. Bucher is a 25-year company veteran who has worked in production, logistics, sales and customer service.