PILATUS ACHIEVED type certification for its new PC-24 business jet from the European Aviation Safety Agency and the US Federal Aviation Administration on December 7, clearing the way ahead for deliveries to begin later in the month.
Speaking in early December, Pilatus Chairman Oscar Schwenk said: “The PC-24 is the first ever Pilatus business jet. Naturally, the requirements associated with obtaining certification for this sort of aircraft are extremely rigorous, and I need hardly mention that we faced some big challenges. In 2013, we announced that the PC-24 would be ready in 2017, and now, shortly before the end of the year, we have achieved exactly that, and all performance data promised to our first 84 customers have been achieved or even exceeded. The PC-24 delivers a maximum speed of 440kts [815km/h] compared to the contractually agreed 425kts [787km/h], to cite just one example.”
Pilatus off cially announced the twin-engine PC-24 programme in 2013, but the company says that it had been working on various concepts for more than a decade prior to the launch. The first aircraft (HB-VXA, msn P01) made its maiden flight from Buochs, adjacent to the Pilatus facility in Stans, Switzerland, on May 11, 2015. This event was followed by the second aircraft (HBVXB, msn P02) in November 2015 and the third (HB-VSA, msn P03) in March 2017.
Pilatus says that by the beginning of December the three test aircraft had accumulated over 2,205 flight hours in various climatic conditions from icing conditions to hot and high testing.
The Swiss aircraft manufacturer has invested over CHF 500 million in the PC-24 development programme and a further CHF 150 million on facilities and equipment at Stans to expand series production capability.
The fuselage and wings of the first production PC-24, for US fractional aircraft owner PlaneSense, were joined at Stans in July. PlaneSense already operates 34 single-engine PC-12 turboprop aircraft and has six PC-24s on order.
Another major operator for the type will be Australia’s Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS), which has ordered three aircraft (plus one option) for its operations in Western Australia and one aircraft (plus one option) for its operations in South and Central Australia. The RFDS is also a major operator of the PC-12.
By early December there were eight PC-24s on the production line at Stans and the company says it is on track to deliver 23 aircraft to customers around the world in 2018. The first production aircraft was handed over to PlaneSense in Switzerland in December, before being flown to the United States in January for the off cial delivery ceremony.
Schwenk said: “I’m extremely proud of my workforce, and would like to thank Pilatus owners, the two aviation authorities and our first 84 PC-24 customers for their trust and confidence in myself and my team. This project involved considerable risk, but we always believed 100% in our PC-24 and were prepared to go all the way to the limits of what we can reasonably do to ensure its success. Obtaining certification is our reward for so many years of untiring effort.” Nigel Pittaway