Pilatus of a different kind

The unveiling of the Pilatus PC-24. (Image © Pilatus)
The unveiling of the Pilatus PC-24. (Image © Pilatus)

A Pilatus aircraft of a different kind was rolled out of the Swiss aircraft builder’s facilities in Stans in central Switzerland on Friday 1 August 2014. The aviation world glanced its first looks at the prototype Pilatus PC-24, the first jet engine powered Pilatus aircraft. No less then 25,000 spectators witnessed the event, according to Pilatus. First flight is scheduled for next year.

The PC-24 is the world’s first ever business jet to come equipped as standard with a cargo door, with the kind of performance specification that allows it to operate in and out of very short runways or even unmade strips. The aircraft was 100 percent newly developed and in the words of Pilatus, it’s the first time traditional Pilatus values such as versatility, efficiency and Swiss precision were combined in a jet.

The unveiling took place exactly 75 yars after Pilatus was founded. The Swiss company is well known for producing trainer aircraft such as the PC-7, PC-9 and PC-21, plus business turboprop aircraft such as the PC-12. Oscar J. Schwenk, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Pilatus: “The PC-24 marks a really important milestone in our 75-year history. We have seen our activities grow and expand here in Stans, and this is where we want to be in the future: in Stans, producing our aircraft for sale to customers around the world.”

The PC_24 features tail mounted jet engines, making it suitable for operating from unpaved runways.  (Image © Pilatus)
The PC_24 features tail mounted jet engines, making it suitable for operating from unpaved runways. (Image © Pilatus)

Test program
A total of three prototypes will be produced for the PC-24 test flight program. The maiden flight of the first prototype, which was presented at the rollout, will go ahead in spring 2015. Final certification and start of deliveries to customers are planned from 2017.

Pilatus sold 84 PC-24s at the European Business Aviation Conference & Exhibition (EBACE) in May this year. At the event on Friday, Swiss federal councillor and defence minister Ueli Maurer announced federal plans for buying a PC-24.

Source: Pilatus, with additional reporting by Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest