Pilatus PC-24 flight-test aircraft P02 flew into Orlando Executive Airport on Tuesday night for its one-day public showing at the NBAA 2016 static display on Wednesday. More details are also emerging about the $8.9 million light twinjet's certification path.
The PC-24 will initially be certified to land on pavement, with approval for unimproved field operations coming shortly thereafter, PC-24 vice president André Zimmerman told AIN. He said Pilatus has already amassed considerable data on how the aircraft behaves on contaminated runways thanks to recent extensive testing on the flooded-runway course at Cranfield, UK. Pilatus will begin work on unimproved landings in the spring.
The flight-test PC-24s have been fitted with a mudguard on the nosewheel to guard against FOD, and devices will be added to the main gear to protect the flaps. Once those devices are developed, they will be added to the aircraft and placed into flight-test.
"We saw how the water is moving around the aircraft in Cranfield at different speeds and flap configurations," said Zimmerman. "That gave us a pretty good first feel." Based on that data, Pilatus does not have any concerns about how the PC-24 will perform "off road," he said.
To date, the flight-test program has been nominal. Flight-test engineer Guy Lynch joined Pilatus seven years ago and has 200 hours in the PC-24, primarily engaged in avionics flight testing. Lynch reports that the Honeywell Apex avionics integration is going well. The avionics are key to the PC-24's ease of single-pilot operation.
Test pilot Theddy Spichtig joined Pilatus in 1999 and currently has 300 hours in the PC-24. He believes that PC-12 turboprop single pilots will not have difficulty transitioning to the PC-24’s avionics or flying workload. "We actually made things simpler and added more automation. There shouldn't be more workload," he said.
Spichtig also reported that the PC-24 is "easy to fly," with approach speeds between 95 and 100 knots. "The flaps provide a good margin to maneuver on the glidepath and you have nice stable speed control. Handling-wise it is really not a challenge
“There is obviously workload for a single pilot, but that doesn't change if it is a PC-12 or a PC-24, but you have better automation in this aircraft. It's just a great step up. It's a docile, nice flying airplane. It's not adding workload from that perspective and has plenty of maneuvering margin at high altitudes.”