Despite my decades of experience with single-engine turbine planes, the Pilatus turboprops, I continue to be impressed by their design and reliability. The switch from military training to civil aviation also demonstrated cleverness and foresight.
Following the resounding success of PC-6 and PC-12, it was only a matter of time before Pilatus launched a twin-engine product. In the past, various manufacturers had stated that the market could handle a “versatile plane” in this category, and that the demand for it was there. Manufacturers like Socata, Diamond and Grob had assessed projects in this category, but apart from Grob Aerospace with the Grob SP (which was aborted during the test-flight stage), no one pursued it further.
A unique aircraft
The story of how the jet eventually came about was very long and not at all a given, as Pilatus was also breaking new ground in terms of the engine. But who else but Pilatus could bring so much experience and so many customer specifications from the field of aerial work into such a highly-specialized project?
The PC-24 ultimately combines over five million flight hours and experience from worldwide operations to remote, unsealed, “hot or high or wet or dry” runways, with the associated operational challenges, into one outstanding and unique product. A plane capable of both meeting VIP requirements and taking on cargo pallets directly from the forklift, transporting it all for more than 3000 kilometers, and safely delivering it on unsealed runways really is a great tool.
21,000 accessible airports worldwide!
The special design of the landing gears with four low-pressure tires, as well as the position of the engines, which protects against stone chips, enables takeoffs and landings on unsealed runways. This broadens the spectrum of accessible airports around the world to over 21,000! In Africa alone, some 2,500 runways can now be accessed, compared to the 815-odd which equivalent rival aircraft can currently fly into. In South America, the PC-24’s potential rises from currently 1501 available runways to 3,282, and in North America this will grow to 8,383, so almost double!
Spacious and pleasant environment
With a cabin length of 7 meters, a height of 1.55 meters and a width of 1.7 meters, along with the completely flat floor, the PC-24 offers passengers a very spacious and pleasant environment, further enhanced by the practically vertical side panels, which enable upright sitting without heads needing to be tilted to cope with the cabin rounding.
The 1.4-m³ cargo hold located relatively close to the center of gravity can be conveniently loaded through the large, upward opening cargo door (1.3 x 1.25 m).
Short take off and landing
Pilatus engineers have pulled out all stops to develop a STOL (short takeoff and landing) aircraft with a large speed range – from 425 knots (890 km/h) when cruising to 81 knots (150 km/h) on approach. To enable this extremely low speed, they have designed a sophisticated wing profile with slitted landing flaps, which can be lowered to 37°. Two large spoilers which open out automatically upon touchdown also shorten the landing distance. For the first time ever, engine manufacturer Williams has used a system which vectorizes the exhaust plume of the two FJ-44-4A turbo engines and thus significantly reduces the takeoff roll, enabling a short takeoff.
With all its aforementioned advantages, it’s no coincidence that the Pilatus PC-24 is offered under the more than justified title of “The Super Versatile Jet”.
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