by J. Kasper Oestergaard, European Correspondent.
The Pilatus PC-24 is a twin-engine light/medium-light business jet currently in the late stages of development and testing. The aircraft builds on Pilatus’s almost 25 years of experience manufacturing and selling the popular PC-12 turboprop – more than 1,450 have been sold to date. The $8.9 million PC-24 shares many of the features of the PC-12, including a spacious aft cargo/baggage compartment and wide cargo door, an easy-to-reconfigure cabin, and the ability to land on short, unpaved runways. These provide the PC-24 with an edge in the very competitive and cyclical market for light business jets. The PC-24 competes with the Embraer Phenom 300, Bombardier Learjet 70/75, and Cessna Citation CJ4 and Citation XLS+ and is priced slightly lower while offering greater versatility. The 4-foot-wide cargo door makes it very useful for medevac missions and cargo transportation.
Pilatus, based in Stans, Switzerland, markets the PC-24 as the “Super Versatile Jet,” combining the practicality of a turboprop with the cabin size of a medium light jet and the performance of a light jet. The aircraft seats six to eight passengers (executive), or up to 10 when configured for commuter transportation. The aircraft comes with seven layout choices: executive, commuter, combi, medevac, and special mission, plus two quick-change configurations.
The aircraft is powered by two Williams International (Rolls-Royce) FJ44-4A dual-channel FADEC-equipped turbofan engines each providing 3,400 pounds of maximum takeoff thrust. The FJ44-4A also powers the Cessna Citation CJ4 and Hawker 400XPR. The PC-24 can take off from runways as short as 2,690 feet (820 m) and has a maximum range of 1,950 nautical miles (single-pilot, four passengers and 800-lb payload). One downside is the PC-24’s maximum cruise speed of 425 kt/489 mph (787 km/h), which is 5-6 percent less than its competitors.
The PC-24 was unveiled on May 21, 2013 at EBACE 2013. Pilatus opened the order book at EBACE 2014 and the first lot of 84 aircraft to be delivered from 2017 to 2019 was sold out within 36 hours. Pilatus is planning to reopen the order book following certification. Launch customer for the PC-24 is fractional ownership company PlaneSense, a long-time Pilatus PC-12 operator. Customers for the first batch range from the Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia to U-Haul International. The first PC-24 test flight aircraft was rolled out in August 2014 and took to the skies for its maiden flight on May 11, 2015. Following the first flight of the third and final test aircraft – the first in a production-standard configuration – on March 6, 2017, the PC-24 entered the final stages of certification and testing. It is expected to enter service at the end of 2017.