The Pilatus PC-24 made its first landing on an unpaved runway on Tuesday at the UK’s Woodbridge Airfield, northeast of London, the Swiss aircraft manufacturer announced today. Pilatus’ twinjet, which received FAA and EASA approval late last year, is currently undergoing a program of post-certification tests with special emphasis on unpaved runway operations. The company plans to obtain “rough field” certification in the fourth quarter.
According to Pilatus, Woodbridge Airfield offers “optimum test conditions.” Plans call for two weeks of testing there to gauge the PC-24’s landing and takeoff capabilities on the airfield’s dirt runway.
The PC-24 was designed for unpaved runway operations from the get-go, but Pilatus focused on obtaining certification using paved runways for its jet before turning to obtain approval for grass and dirt strips. With the addition of unpaved runways, the PC-24 will be able to access almost twice as many airports worldwide as other jets currently on the market, Pilatus said.
The Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia plans to use short unpaved runways with its PC-24s on medevac missions, starting next year. Five PC-24s have been delivered to date, and another 18 are expected to be handed over to customers by year-end.