Pilatus Business Aircraft (Booth No. 228) reports that despite some cancellations and delivery deferrals of its single-engine Next Generation PC-12 this year, it has maintained production rates at its plant in Switzerland. The company is confident that the turboprop’s improved avionics, completely new cockpit and more powerful engine will see it through the global aerospace crisis.
Launched at the 1989 NBAA convention and certified in 1994, the PC-12 was designed to compete with multi-engine turboprops such as the Hawker Beechcraft King Air 200 and small business jets like the Cessna CJ1, which is faster but has less range and a much smaller cabin.
The 900th PC-12 was delivered on April 30 at the company’s U.S. headquarters in Broomfield, Colo., and about 30 more were delivered by early this month, according to Mike Haenggi, vice president of marketing. Deliveries during the first half of this year totaled 44.
The record of 97 deliveries last year continued a five-year growth trend that includes 90 deliveries in 2006 and 92 in 2007. Meanwhile, the 2010 production rate is expected to be around 80 aircraft, while this year’s rate is pegged at 90 to 100. North and South America account for about 60 percent of PC-12 deliveries with the remainder going mainly to Europe, Australia and South Africa, he said.
The PC-12 NG’s 330-cu-ft cabin is equipped with a dual-zone environmental control system, digital cabin pressurization control system and redundant power generation and distribution system.
The airplane boasts a BMW DesignWorksUSA-designed cockpit and a more powerful Pratt & Whitney Canada PTA-67P turboprop replacing the PT6A-67B. The -67P provides a 15-percent increase in thermodynamic power for improved hot-and-high performance, with 20 percent more power initially in climb and about 11 percent more power at maximum cruise from 20,000 to 30,000 feet. It is flat-rated at 1,200 shp for continuous takeoff power compared to 1,000 shp in the previous engine.
The new engine also features single-crystal compressor turbine blades, a new compressor configuration and dual-generator accessory gearbox to accommodate two 300-amp generators. Maximum cruise speed is 280 ktas and NBAA IFR range is 1,573 nm with three passengers.
Last year, the PC-12 NG was the first aircraft to be certified with Honeywell’s Primus Apex avionics system, which has four 10.4-inch-displays. Apex is optimized for single-pilot operation and features a cursor-driven navigation system and in-flight weather and charts display.
Haenggi said the latest update is a cursor-control device for the Primus Apex system, which uses a trackball installed between the seats to supplement the joystick on the multifunction controller panel.
The trackball, he said, will be standard equipment on PC-12s starting next year. Base price for the 2010 model is $3.78 million, with the executive configuration costing about $4.4 million, depending on optional equipment.
At its headquarters at Stans, Switzerland, near Lucerne Pilatus employs about 1,230 people of the 1,300 working for it worldwide. The company also produces the PC-21 military trainer, in service with the air forces of Singapore and Switzerland.
Pilatus has been running two assembly lines since its $27 million 94,000-sq-ft facility at Stans opened in early 2008. Haenggi said that to stabilize production rhythms, the company imposed cuts in working hours as of September 1. But, he said, it has made no reductions in the workforce and does not plan to do so.