Accompanied by plumes of dry ice pouring from the edges of a black-curtained mockup and the music from the Superman movie, chairman Oscar Schwenk called for the unveiling of Pilatus Aircraft’s long-awaited new twinjet project, the PC-24, on Tuesday, May 21 at EBACE. (See more photos.)
“Customer-first is our mission statement,” Schwenk intoned just prior to the unveiling. “Therefore we asked our customers what they wished to complement the [Pilatus] product line.” What they asked for, he said, was an aircraft with the capabilities of the PC-12, but faster and with a bigger cabin. “The PC-24 is unique. It’s the only aircraft combining the versatility of a turboprop with the cabin size of a medium-size jet and the performance of a light jet.”
The PC-24 airframe is all-metal and is designed to operate from short and unimproved runways, as little as 2,690 feet (balanced field length) at mtow. Intended for Part 23 certification, the PC-24 can be flown by one pilot. Two Williams International FJ44-4A engines help the PC-24 climb to its maximum altitude FL450 in under 30 minutes and achieve a high-speed cruise of 425 ktas at FL300. Range with an 800-pound payload (four passengers) at long-range cruise speed and NBAA 100-nm IFR reserves is 1,950 nm. Maximum takeoff weight is 17,650 pounds and maximum payload 2,500 pounds.
With seating for six to eight passengers or up to 10 in commuter configuration, the PC-24’s cabin volume is 501 cu ft, “much more than bigger aircraft that cost twice as much,” Schwenk said. The cabin has a flat floor.
The PC-24 naturally features a large cargo door like the PC-12, and the baggage compartment is pressurized. Also like the PC-12, the PC-24 can land on unimproved runways.
Key to the PC-24’s short-field performance is a unique design feature of the jet’s two 3,435-pound-thrust Williams engines. An additional 5 percent power is available via a new automatic thrust reserve feature, according to Williams International. The engines also employ William’s Exact passive thrust vectoring nozzle technology, which uses the Coanda effect to provide a three-degree “vectored” thrust during high-power operations. The Exact feature was planned for Piper’s cancelled Altaire single-engine jet, although using a higher seven-degree vector.
An anti-ice and noise-suppressing inlet is supplied by Williams, as is an integral pre-cooler “to condition engine bleed air and reduce drag losses.” The PC-24 doesn’t need an APU because the FJ44s use Williams’s Quiet Power Mode to provide ground power efficiently and with little noise. The engine has a 5,000-hour TBO and hot-section interval of 2,500 hours.
Avionics are a Honeywell Primus Apex flight deck, but branded as the Pilatus Advanced Cockpit Environment. The most basic version includes four 12-inch displays, Honeywell SmartView synthetic vision, Tcas II, inertial reference system, Waas LPV approaches and graphical flight planning on the moving map.
Pilatus has already begun building the prototype PC-24 in a small hangar tucked into the edges of the company’s Stans, Switzerland headquarters. The first PC-24 will roll out in the third quarter of 2014 and fly before the end of the year. EASA and FAA certification is planned in early 2017, according to Schwenk, and first delivery will take place immediately after certification.
The PC-24 will sell for $8.9 million in 2017 economic terms, according to Schwenk. Pilatus isn’t taking orders at this year’s EBACE show but will open the order book next May. Financing for the program is entirely from Pilatus funds.
Proud of his company’s and employees’ efforts, Schwenk introduced the new PC-24 as a “super versatile jet” or SVJ, because, he explained, it’s in an entirely new category for business jets.