Tag Archives: Pilatus

First PC-12 NG for Surf Air

Featured image: The first Surf Air PC-12 NG taking off from Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport, Bloomfield, Colorado (Image © Pilatus Aircraft Ltd.)

The “all-you-can-fly” private membership travel company Surf Air got its first brand new Pilatus PC-12 NG on 5 November 2014, at the Pilatus Business Aircraft facility in Broomfield, Colorado. The aircraft with serial 1490 and registration N809SA is the first of fifteen firm aircraft the membership-based airline ordered from Pilatus earlier this year.

This newest aircraft joins a fleet of three older PC-12s Surf Air employed initially to introduce their business model. Two additional new PC-12 NGs will join the fleet by the end of this year. As new aircraft come on line, the older Legacy PC-12s will eventually be phased out and replaced with PC-12 NGs featuring the Honeywell Primus Apex integrated avionics system, a higher horsepower Pratt & Whitney PT6A-67P engine, and customized BMW DesignworksUSA executive interiors.

The delivery of the first three new aircraft this year in Surf Air’s fleet will allow the company to expand its service to Carlsbad in California, beginning 18 November and Oakland in California, beginning 15 December. Surf Air will take delivery of additional aircraft ordered in 2015 and 2016 before making a decision on exercising up to 50 additional options it has for future PC-12 NG delivery positions.

Surf Air’s aims at hassle-free air travel. The company operates Pilatus PC-12s in executive interior configuration to and from airports in the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles Metro Area, Santa Barbara and Truckee Lake Tahoe, with service to additional locations to follow.

Source: Pilatus Aircraft

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The first Surf Air PC-12 NG at Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport, Bloomfield, Colorado (Image © Pilatus Aircraft Ltd.)
The first Surf Air PC-12 NG at Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport, Bloomfield, Colorado (Image © Pilatus Aircraft Ltd.)

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

Pilatus and Saab join forces

Pilatus PC-21
A Swiss Pilatus PC-21. (Image © Pilatus Aircraft Ltd.)

Swiss Pilatus Aircraft and Swedish Saab last week signed a Memorandum of Understanding which addresses the offset obligations of Saab related to the possible purchase of the Gripen for the Swiss Air Force, while at the same time forging a long term relationship between two innovative and forward looking aerospace companies.

A new generation of aircraft for a new generation of military pilots: Gripens for Switzerland – PC-21s for Sweden. The PC-21 Pilot Training System has been the subject of sales negotiations between Pilatus and Sweden for some time. A decision to proceed with the purchase of the Gripen would take Pilatus one step closer to concluding a PC-21 contract, creating a win-win situation for both countries.

An order to produce and deliver some twenty PC-21s would be an important achievement for one of Central Switzerland’s biggest employers, with a workforce of over 1600 at its headquarters in Stans, and would also provide a boost for related business entities across Switzerland as a whole.

New jobs
Pilatus and Saab also aim to create some 100 further new positions in the aerostructures sector. The production – for the PC-21, the Gripen and other aircraft types made by both manufacturers – will be performed at a new location in Switzerland which has yet to be defined.

Plans have also been agreed to set up an “Aerospace Software Development Center” in Switzerland. The two aircraft manufacturers will focus on developing innovative and safety-related software for their aircraft and associated groundbased systems. The goal will be to bundle know-how and exploit synergies to benefit the product ranges of both companies. All these measures are forecast to generate orders worth some half a billion Swiss francs (9.5 billion USD) over the next five to eight years. Around half of that total would go to Pilatus’ Swiss supplier base.

Markus Bucher, CEO of Pilatus Aircraft Ltd, explains: “This is a long-term partnership that makes sense, and would benefit both Sweden and Switzerland. The Gripen is the optimum aircraft for the Swiss Air Force and the PC-21 provides the best solution for the provision of training to military pilots, in Sweden and elsewhere. The Gripen offset deal has been vigorously negotiated in detail by armasuisse. It will allow Pilatus and around 600 Swiss suppliers to safeguard valuable development and industrial jobs on a long-term basis.”

Source: Pilatus Aircraft

Meet the Pilatus PC-12 Next Generation

The PC-12 off the coast of Los Angeles (Image © Pilatus Aircraft Ltd)
The PC-12 off the coast of Los Angeles (Image © Pilatus Aircraft Ltd)

Twenty years after the first delivery of the Pilatus PC-12 business turboprop, the Swiss aircraft company launches the 2014 PC-12 NG (Next Generation).

The new model will come in a choice of six new BMW DesignworksUSA executive interior options, a new electric landing gear system, external LED lighting, a wireless Connected Flight Deck system, and a Wi-Fi passenger entertainment system.

By replacing the PC-12’s original hydraulic landing gear with a new electric system, PC-12 operators realize both weight (13 lb / 5.9 kg) and maintenance cost savings.

The light emitting diodes (LED) are there for landing, taxi, recognition, navigation, and strobe lights. The tail-mounted strobe light has been eliminated by incorporating its function into the two wingtip strobes. The LED lights are even more reliable due to their solid state design, and produce more light than the incandescent bulbs employed in previous models of the aircraft.

The so-called Connected Flight Deck system is a set of four iPad applications that interface with a wireless gateway system onboard the PC-12 NG. Each application is designed to enhance the efficiency of data exchanged between the aircraft, pilot, and maintenance personnel. The apps enable fast and simple wireless updates of airport, navigation and terrain databases, off-aircraft flight planning and uploading directly to the flight management system, maintenance and diagnostic recording with email to a service facility, and a moving map feature for passengers. Pilatus worked together with Honeywell, Jeppesen and Aspen Avionics to generate the iPad apps.

Apart from passanger to connect via USB, Ethernet or wirelessly to the on-board media server and view everything on standard high resolution moving map displays Pilatus also offers both satellite and ground-based options for in-flight internet access for the North American market.

The base price for the 2014 PC-12 NG is US$ 3,850,000 with a typically equipped executive configuration priced at US$ 4,642,000.

Source: Pilatus

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The pilot's workspace on the 2014 PC-12NG (Image © Pilatus Aircraft Ltd)
The pilot’s workspace on the 2014 PC-12NG (Image © Pilatus Aircraft Ltd)
One of the new iPad apps of the Connected Flight Deck of the 2014 PC-12NG (Image © Pilatus Aircraft Ltd)
One of the new iPad apps of the Connected Flight Deck of the 2014 PC-12NG (Image © Pilatus Aircraft Ltd)
New LED lighting on the 2014 PC-12NG (Image © Pilatus Aircraft Ltd)
New LED lighting on the 2014 PC-12NG (Image © Pilatus Aircraft Ltd)

RNZAF selects Beechcraft T-6C

The Beechcraft T-6C in flight (Image © Beechcraft)
The Beechcraft T-6C in flight (Image © Beechcraft)

New Zealand selected the Beechcraft T-6C trainer as its newest asset. A deal was signed on 24 January 2014 at the New Zealand Defence House in Wellington, according to the US Embassy there. A total of 11 aircraft are on order.

Two T-6Cs are planned to arrive already this year and will be the country’s most manoeuverable fixed-wing aircraft, that could in theory could be modified for light attack roles. The Pacific country doesn’t have any close air support or fighter aircraft since it retired its last of the 18 Aermacchi MB-339s in 2001.

For training purposes the New Zealand Air Force operates 13 leased Pacific Aerospace Limited (PACL) CT-4E Airtrainers at Ohakea, which came into service in 1998. The low-key aircraft also equip the country’s official aerobatic display team, the Red Checkers.

Four Beechcraft Beech King Air 200s are flown by 42 Squadron, also at Ohakea, for training and light transport purposes. According to the US embassy the new T-6Cs will replace those Beech 200s, meaning the RNZAF will loose some light transport capabilities if it’s true.

Six large Lockheed P-3K/P-3K2 Orion maritime patrol and surveillance aircraft at Whenuapai (Auckland) are currently the RNZAF’s only fixed-wing assets with somewhat offensive capabilities against targets at sea or below the water.

For operations on land the country has to rely on support of helicopters and transport aircraft only. The first being five AgustaWestland A109 LUHs, eight incoming NH Industries NH90s and 10 Bell UH-1H Iroquois. The latter being two Boeing 757-200s and five Lockheed C-130Hs, plus the four Beech 200s.

The New Zealand order is a small success for the struggling military division of the Hawker Beechcraft company that is being bought by Cessna’s parent company Textron. In October 2013 the Mexican military ordered six additional T-6C+, an advanced version of the T-6 the Fuerza Aérea Mexicana (FAM) uses to replace its aging Pilatus PC-7s. The FAM initially ordered six T-6C+s in 2012.

Different from the basic C-version ordered by New Zealand, the Mexican T-6C+s are build from the start to carry weapons at external stores. They can be actively deployed in the ground support role or for weapon training purposes.

The people at the Beechcraft factory in Wichita, Kansas, also hope they can find customers for the company’s AT-6 dedicated light attack aircraft.

© 2014 AIRheads’ editor Marcel Burger with source information from the US Embassy in New Zealand and Beechcraft