The Pilatus PC-24: First of Its Kind Business Class SVJ Can Go Where Comparable Others Cannot

Flex Air Charters Aircraft, First Looks

First introduced to the public in 2013, the Pilatus PC-24, designed and produced by Pilatus Aircraft is a twin-engined business class jet. Marketed as the world’s first SVJ, Super Versatile Jet, the design’s objective was tri-fold, to combine the functionality of a turboprop, the luxury and spaciousness of a midsize jet yet maintain the performance standards of a very light jet.

Seen as a next-gen twin-engine upgrade from its single-engined counterpart, the Pilatus PC-12, the Pilatus PC-24 cannot only exceed its predecessor in climb and altitude capability while retaining the capacity to land practically anywhere. Short field or underdeveloped runways, in rough terrain, even on the side of a mountain. All things considered, the Pilatus PC-24 an extremely versatile and competitive option when pitted against comparable aircraft of the day, like the Cessna Citation CJ4 and Embraer Phenom 300.

Following on the success throughout the 1990’s of the PC-12, Pilatus was interested in developing another aircraft that would not only improve upon the functionality of the very popular PC-12 but featured innovations that would appeal to their existing customer base and attract new buyers in the process.

After compiling customer feedback, the overall consensus was that customers desired an improvement upon the PC-12’s range and speed while maintaining the capability to land in rugged terrain and on shorter runways. Inspired by their response, Pilatus commenced development of the aircraft in 2007.

Early on in the development process, it was decided that the Pilatus PC-24 would be jet-powered by twin Williams FJ44 engines making the Pilatus PC-24 the first of Pilatus produced aircraft to feature jet propulsion. Beyond the inclusion of jet power, the Pilatus PC-24 features an exclusive avionics design based upon a collaboration between Honeywell and Pilatus engineers. The flight deck suite was developed with the pilot’s ease of use in mind by decreasing their workload and allows for the aircraft to be single-pilot certified.

The 8 plus passenger, 2-crew Pilatus PC-24 is powered by two Williams FJ44-4A turbofan engines, each possessing of 3,400 lbf and affixed to the side of the fuselage aft. The comfortable and spacious 23 ft by 5 plus ft cabin has three exits, one passenger and two designated for emergency exit in addition to a pallet-sized cargo door for easy and convenient loading. A first of its kind in the business class category according to the aircraft’s manufacturer.

Individual passenger seats possess a quick-change option that makes removal of or the addition of seats happen with rapid succession. The plane’s rear partition is adjustable so either the passenger cabin may be enlarged or allows for the expansion of the baggage compartment. The interior reflects the designer’s attempt to create the ultimate in comfort with soft leather seating, hardwood cabinetry, and wood grain embellishments and trim. Performance specs are impressive with the Pilatus PC-24 having a maximum cruise of 440 kn, a stall speed of 81 kn and an extensive range of 1,188 nmi with a max payload of 2500 lbs.

In May of 2013, at the European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (EBACE) in Geneva, the Pilatus PC-24 was unveiled. When asked about the aircraft, Pilatus chairman, Oskar Schwenk stated that as a result of the jet’s state of the art innovations and nonconforming capabilities, the aircraft didn’t fit into any of the current conventional aircraft categories, hence the inception of the Super Versatile Jet (SVJ) category.

In August of the following year, the first of three prototypes was rolled out with its initial test flights commencing in May of 2015. The second prototype completed its maiden flight in November 2015. During an appearance at the European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (EBACE) in 2016, it was announced that the progression of the Pilatus PC-24 program was on track for type certification and aircraft delivery expected to be achieved in 2017. The third prototype would complete flight testing much later in 2017. Cumulatively, the three prototypes flew a total of 2200 flight test hours before receiving European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and Federal Aviation Association (FAA) type certification in December 2017.

After type certification, the first delivery of the Pilatus PC-24 was completed in February of 2018 to PlaneSense, who recently started offering fractional ownership opportunities of the aircraft. Twenty-four more deliveries are anticipated this year, with as many as 40 in the year 2019 and then 50 a year annually thereafter.

Those looking to own a Pilatus PC-24 can pick one up for roughly 8.9 million dollars. The reason flight enthusiasts, operators, and pilots would have an interest in purchasing a Pilatus PC-24 is implicit. Where else will you find the comfort and roominess of a midsize jet charter; the speed and performance of a turboprop and the rugged off-road capability to land at more than twice as many airports as its business class counterparts all combined into one powerful and luxurious package? Paved, unpaved, grassy, even short field, the Pilatus PC-24 can touch down at more than 20,000 plus airfields worldwide, whereas its compeers can only achieve landing in, at most, 10,000.

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