As scheduled, Pilatus Aircraft opened the orderbook for the PC-24 twinjet yesterday at EBACE 2014 and all day long at the Pilatus booth chairman Oscar Schwenk and CEO Markus Bucher signed contracts with avid buyers. The first contract was inked by Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia, with an order for four PC-24s. U.S. fractional-share PC-12 operator PlaneSense placed an order for six PC-24s, and other buyers included Falcon Aviation Services of the UAE, with two; Luxembourg-based Jetfly, four; U-Haul International in the U.S., two; and many others. By four p.m., the live order board at the Pilatus booth (3646) listed orders for 75 PC-24s, of which some were clearly orders from dealers.
“It’s fantastic to be able to sign the first sales contracts for our new aircraft with such well-known operators,” said Schwenk. “I would like to express my very sincere thanks to our customers for their confidence in our company and in the PC-24.”
PlaneSense president and CEO George Antoniadis said he expects to receive one of the first PC-24s after certification in 2017. The company’s six PC-24s are to be delivered in the first three years after entry into service. “And we also have agreements with Pilatus for a steady flow of further orders beyond the first three years,” he said.
Antoniadis sees three distinct customer groups that should be interested in buying a PC-24 share from PlaneSense. The first is the existing PC-12 customer base, owners who want the higher speed of the PC-24. The second group are PC-12 shareowners who might plan to leave PlaneSense in order to buy a jet elsewhere. And then there are potential buyers who won’t consider anything other than a jet.
“We feel that the PC-12 program is a very robust program,” Antoniadis said. “We will continue growing that program, [and] in fact last week we received the 50th PC-12 that we’ve ordered since the inception of the program, but now we’re enhancing the program with the PC-24.”
Grahame Marshall, CEO of the Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia, said, “With the vast distances we service across western Australia, the challenge for us has been how to combine a turboprop’s strengths like its dependability and its ability to operate from short and unimproved surfaces, with a jet’s speed–and that is exactly what the PC-24 will now deliver. The other great benefit the PC-24 will bring is enhanced accessibility for our stretcher patients and staff because of its huge aft cargo door.”
Back at the Pilatus headquarters in Stans, Switzerland, the prototype PC-24’s wings have been joined, and the fuselage is nearly reading for mating with the assembled wings. The 425-knot PC-24 is powered by Williams International FJ44-4A engines and features Pilatus’s Honeywell-based Advanced Cockpit Environment avionics system. Pilatus is holding a formal rollout ceremony for the PC-24 at Airport Buochs in Stans on August 1.