Pilatus rolled out the first example of its new PC-24 business jet on August 1, just over a year after launching the new model in May 2013. The aircraft is expected to make its first flight by year-end en route to European and U.S. certification in early 2017.
Swiss precision characterizes not only the technical development of the aircraft, but also the sales and marketing strategy. By the end of May’s European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition in Geneva, the Swiss company temporarily suspended new bookings with 84 firm orders logged–accounting for all projected delivery positions between early 2017 and the end of 2019. As the program progresses, Pilatus executives plan to reopen the order book to fill delivery slots from the start of 2020. All orders are back by binding contracts and nonrefundable deposits.
Pilatus has priced the new model at $8.9 million (in 2017 economic values), billing it as constituting a versatile new category in the business aviation marketplace. It claims the aircraft combines the flexibility of a turboprop with the cabin size of a midsized jet and the performance of a light jet. The aircraft’s primary fuselage and wing structure is made from aluminum.
The flat-floor cabin seats six to eight passengers. Range with four passengers is 1,950 nm (NBAA IFR reserves, 100-nm alternate) and high-speed cruise speed is 425 ktas at FL300. The PC-24’s cabin dimensions are superior to those of Cessna’s midsized Citation XLS+ in most key respects, namely: 67 inches wide versus 66 inches; 23 feet long versus 18.5 feet; 501 cubic feet volume versus 461 cubic feet. Cabin height is seven inches shorter than the XLS+, but this is only because of the Citation’s dropped floor.
The PC-24 can seat up to 10 passengers in commuter configuration. In an executive format, the cabin features an externally serviced lavatory in either fore or aft positions, with an optional galley available too.
Extra versatility comes from the PC-24’s large cargo door. With dimensions of 4 feet 3 inches high and 4 feet 1 inch wide, it can accommodate standard-size cargo pallets. Seats can be quickly removed to increase the size of the baggage compartment from 51 cubic feet to 90 cubic feet (large enough to carry a full-sized motorcycle).
Another key factor is its ability to operate from short and unprepared runways (2,690-foot balanced field length at max takeoff weight). Intended for Part 23 certification, the mainly-aluminum PC-24 can be flown by one pilot.
Two Williams International FJ44-4A engines will help the aircraft climb to its maximum altitude of 45,000 feet in under 30 minutes. Maximum takeoff weight is 17,650 pounds and maximum payload is2,500 pounds.
Key to the PC-24’s short-field performance is a unique design feature of its 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 turbofans also employ Williams’ Exact passive thrust vectoring nozzle technology, which uses the Coanda effect to provide a three-degree “vectored” thrust during high-power operations.
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 of2,500 hours.
The PC-24 avionics suite consists of a Honeywell Primus Apex flight deck, which for this platform is 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 themoving map.
The cockpit will also feature the integrated navigation data service data manager for the Apple iPad. The INDS, developed by Jeppesen and Honeywell, simplifies the Honeywell Apex database update process, allowing wireless updates through the iPad. An Aspen Avionics CG100P Connected Panel device is part of the INDS system, and this is the equipment’s first application in a business aircraft.